The Association of Sport and Exercise Activities With Cardiovascular Disease Risk: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: This study assessed the independent associations between participation in self-reported sport and exercise activities and incident cardiovascular disease (CVD). Methods: Data were from 13,204 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study cohort (1987–2015). Baseline sport and exercise activities were assessed via the modified Baecke questionnaire. Incident CVD included coronary heart disease, heart failure, or stroke. Multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazard models assessed the association of participation in specific sport and exercise activities at enrollment with risk of CVD. Results: During a median follow-up time of 25.2 years, 30% of the analytic sample (n = 3966) was diagnosed with incident CVD. In fully adjusted models, participation in racquet sports (hazard ratio [HR] 0.75; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.61–0.93), aerobics (HR 0.75; 95% CI, 0.63–0.88), running (HR 0.68; 95% CI, 0.54–0.85), and walking (HR 0.89; 95% CI, 0.83–0.95) was significantly associated with a lower risk of CVD. There were no significant associations for bicycling, softball/baseball, gymnastics, swimming, basketball, calisthenics exercises, golfing with cart, golfing with walking, bowling, or weight training. Conclusions: Participation in specific sport and exercises may substantially reduce the risk for CVD.

Porter, Schilsky, and Evenson are with the Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Porter is now with the School of Health Professions, The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, USA. Florido is with the Division of Cardiology, Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA. Palta is with the Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. Holliday is with the Department of Community & Family Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, USA. Folsom is with the Division of Epidemiology & Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA.

Porter ( is corresponding author.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Table 1 (PDF 134 KB)
    • Supplementary Table 2 (PDF 12 KB)
    • Supplementary Table 3 (PDF 13 KB)