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Physical activity is associated with decreased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). The specific physical activity types that provide beneficial effects in an older population remain unclear. We assessed the association of total physical activity, walking, cycling, domestic work, sports, and gardening with CHD by using Cox proportional hazard models among 5,901 participants aged >55 (median age, 67) years from the prospective population-based Rotterdam Study, enrolled between 1997 and 2001. Activities were categorized into tertiles, and the lowest tertiles were used as reference. In the multivariable model, we adjusted for age, sex, smoking, alcohol consumption, education, diet, and other physical activity types. During 15 years of follow-up (median, 10.3 (interquartile range, 8.0-11.8) years), 642 participants (10.9%) experienced a CHD event. In the multivariable model, the respective hazard ratios for the medium and high categories compared with the low category were 0.79 (95% confidence interval CI): 0.66, 0.96) and 0.71 (95% CI: 0.58, 0.87) for total physical activity, 0.76 (95% CI: 0.63, 0.92) and 0.70 (95% CI: 0.57, 0.88) for cycling, and 0.81 (95% CI: 0.66, 0.98) and 0.71 (95% CI: 0.56, 0.90) for domestic work. Walking, sports, and gardening were not associated with CHD. In conclusion, in this long-term follow-up study of older adults, domestic work and cycling were associated with reduced CHD risk. Physical activity should be promoted in this population with the aim to prevent CHD.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Epidemiol

Publication Date





729 - 738


coronary heart disease, cycling, domestic work, elderly, physical activity, Aged, Bicycling, Coronary Artery Disease, Exercise, Gardening, Household Work, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Multivariate Analysis, Netherlands, Proportional Hazards Models, Prospective Studies, Protective Factors, Risk Factors, Sports, Surveys and Questionnaires, Time Factors, Walking