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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Brown: Leisure Time Physical Activity and Cardio‐Metabolic Health

As Brazilians prepare to host the Olympics, a new paper by Ms. Xiaochin Lin, a doctoral candidate in the Brown University School of Public Health and colleagues, reports Brazilians’ low rates of exercise. The analysis of data from the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health finds that in a sample of more than 10,500 adults (civil servants aged 35 to 74 free of cardiovascular diseases), only 21 percent of women and 29 percent of men were active in their leisure time by international standards. In the U.S., more than 50 percent of people in 2014 were active by those standards, which call for 150 minutes of moderate weekly physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.

[Photo: Ms. Xiaochin Lin]

The study found that study participants who were active they were significantly healthier. Men benefitted more than women, but for both genders, participation in leisure time physical activity was associated with healthier blood pressure and heart rates and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

To conduct her research, performed as part of the Brown Brazil Initiative in Global Healthat the University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Lin worked with co-corresponding authors Dr. Simin Liu of Brown and Dr. Paulo Lotufo of the University of São Paolo. With a total enrollment of 15,105 participants working at six universities around the country, it is one of the largest public health studies in South America. Ms. Lin’s analysis of baseline data quantified key differences between people who were active and those who were not on a variety of measures and scores projecting their future health risks. On average, controlling for confounding factors such as age, body-mass index, smoking and alcohol use, women who were active had significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressures and heart rates. Their risk of hypertension was 22 percent lower as was their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Active men, on average, also had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressures and heart rates. Their hypertension risk was 25 percent lower, and their risk of developing cardiovascular disease was 33 percent lower. Active men also had a significantly lower risk of future diabetes.

Several recent programs in Brazil have engaged the public to become more active and eat a healthier diet. The new analysis, and maybe the inspiration of the Olympics, could add further energy to encouraging more exercise.

Study published May in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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