WEDNESDAY, March 1, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Higher physical activity levels are associated with a lower risk for severe chronic disease and mortality outcomes among adults, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis published online Feb. 28 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Leandro Garcia, D.Sc., from the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and cohort-level dose-response meta-analysis to estimate the associations between nonoccupational physical activity and several chronic disease and mortality outcomes among adults. Data were included from 196 articles covering 94 cohorts with more than 30 million participants.

The researchers found that higher activity levels were associated with a lower risk for all outcomes, in general. Greater differences in risk were seen between 0 and 8.75 marginal metabolic equivalent of task-hours per week (mMET-hours/week; equivalent to the recommended 150 minutes/week of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity); smaller marginal differences in risk were seen above this level to 17.5 mMET-hours/week, beyond which small and uncertain additional differences were seen. Stronger associations were observed for all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality than for cancer mortality (relative risks at 8.75 mMET-hours/week, 0.69 and 0.71, respectively, versus 0.85). Overall, 15.7 percent of all premature deaths would have been averted if all insufficiently active individuals achieved 8.75 mMET-hours/week.

“Appreciable population health benefits might be gained from increasing physical activity levels of people who are inactive to just half the current health recommendations, with further benefits for all reaching at least the recommended level and smaller additional benefits beyond that,” the authors write.

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