Physical activity and incidence of coronary heart disease in middle- aged women and men

Aaron R. Folsom, Donna K. Arnett, Richard G. Hutchinson, Fangzi Liao, Limin X. Clegg, Lawton S. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


Few studies of physical activity and coronary heart disease (CHD) have included women or blacks. We examined this association in a biracial cohort of 45- to 64-yr-old adults. We related the sports, leisure, and work indices developed by J. A. H. Baecke et al. to CHD incident events (N = 97 in women, N = 223 in men) over 4-7 yr in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. The age-, race-, and field center-adjusted relative risk of CHD was 0.73 in women and 0.82 in men per each standard deviation increment in the sports index (P < 0.05). For the leisure index, these relative risks were 0.78 for both sexes (P < 0.05). The work index was not associated with CHD. These inverse associations held for non-blacks, but there was no association between the sport or leisure indices and CHD among blacks. Vigorous sports participation was strongly inversely associated with CHD, but an independent contribution of nonvigorous activity (e.g., walking) could not he demonstrated conclusively. Adjustment for other risk factors attenuated the relative risks, as one might expect if these risk factors mediated any protective effect of physical activity. Our findings reinforce evidence that regular physical activity should protect women, as well as men, from CHD. Explanations for no association among blacks, if real, are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)901-909
Number of pages9
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1997


  • Coronary disease
  • Exertion
  • Leisure time physical activity
  • Prospective study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Physical activity and incidence of coronary heart disease in middle- aged women and men'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this