Article Text

Associations of specific types of sports and exercise with all-cause and cardiovascular-disease mortality: a cohort study of 80 306 British adults
  1. Pekka Oja1,
  2. Paul Kelly2,
  3. Zeljko Pedisic3,
  4. Sylvia Titze4,
  5. Adrian Bauman5,
  6. Charlie Foster6,
  7. Mark Hamer7,
  8. Melvyn Hillsdon8,
  9. Emmanuel Stamatakis5
  1. 1UKK Institute, Tampere, Finland
  2. 2Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4Institute of Sport Sciences, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
  5. 5Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  6. 6Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  7. 7School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
  8. 8Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Pekka Oja, UKK Institute, P.O. Box 30, Tampere 33501, Finland; pekka.oja{at}


Background/Aim Evidence for the long-term health effects of specific sport disciplines is scarce. Therefore, we examined the associations of six different types of sport/exercise with all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality risk in a large pooled Scottish and English population-based cohort.

Methods Cox proportional hazards regression was used to investigate the associations between each exposure and all-cause and CVD mortality with adjustment for potential confounders in 80 306 individuals (54% women; mean±SD age: 52±14 years).

Results Significant reductions in all-cause mortality were observed for participation in cycling (HR=0.85, 95% CI 0.76 to 0.95), swimming (HR=0.72, 95% CI 0.65 to 0.80), racquet sports (HR=0.53, 95% CI 0.40 to 0.69) and aerobics (HR=0.73, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.85). No significant associations were found for participation in football and running. A significant reduction in CVD mortality was observed for participation in swimming (HR=0.59, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.75), racquet sports (HR=0.44, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.83) and aerobics (HR=0.64, 95% CI 0.45 to 0.92), but there were no significant associations for cycling, running and football. Variable dose–response patterns between the exposure and the outcomes were found across the sport disciplines.

Conclusions These findings demonstrate that participation in specific sports may have significant benefits for public health. Future research should aim to further strengthen the sport-specific epidemiological evidence base and understanding of how to promote greater sports participation.

  • Epidemiology
  • Physical activity
  • Public health
  • Sports
  • Cohort study

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  • Contributors PO and ZP conceived the idea for the study. PO and ES made a study plan. ES, PK, PO, ST and ZP contributed to the development of the data analysis design. ES processed and analysed the data. PO, PK, ST, ES and ZP drafted the manuscript. AB, CF, MHa, MHi contributed to the writing of the manuscript. All authors contributed to drafting the rebuttal and revising the final draft of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was granted for all aspects of these studies by the following Ethics Committees prior to each survey year data collection: HSE 1994 was approved by the Medical Ethics Committee of the British Medical Association; HSE 1998/99 were approved by North Thames Multi Centre Research Ethics Committee; HSE 2003/2004 were approved by the London Multi-Centre Research Ethics Committee; SHS 1998 was approved by the Research Ethics Committees for All Health Boards for Scotland; SHS 2003 was approved by the Multi Research Ethics Committee for Scotland.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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