Physical activity and all-cause mortality

Activity inversely related to all-cause mortality

Elderly men in Zutphen with a high level of leisure physical activity (mean 1217 min/week) had a 23% lower all-cause mortality after 10 years of follow-up compared to those with a low level (mean 122 min/week). Men who walked or cycled at least 3 times per week for 20 min or more per day were called active and those who did not meet the criterion were considered sedentary. All-cause mortality was 29% lower in the active compared to the sedentary men.

Reducing activity was associated with greater all-cause mortality

Changes in physical activity over the period of study were also related to all-cause mortality rate. Men who were sedentary in both 1985 and 1990 surveys had a 2 times greater risk of death from all causes by 1995 compared to those who were classed as active in both surveys. A gradient of decreasing risk of death was observed among those who became active compared to those who became or remained sedentary.

Measuring physical activity

In the Zutphen Elderly Study physical activity was assessed with a questionnaire among these retired men, which queried about frequency and duration of walking, cycling, sports, gardening, hobbies and odd jobs. The questionnaire was validated against measures of total energy expenditure.

About the Zutphen Elderly Study

The Zutphen Elderly Study is an extension of the original Zutphen Study with a sample of the same age where detailed information on the diet of all the participants was collected four times between 1985 and 2000.  Read more about the Zutphen (Elderly) Study.

More about healthy aging

From 1984 onwards, additional studies started to examine indicators of healthy ageing in the elderly populations of in the SCS and related studies.


Physical activity and disability

The results suggest that even in old age among relatively healthy men, a physically active lifestyle was inversely related to disability.

Measuring functional status

Functional status was measured with a self-administered 13-item WHO-questionnaire on activities of daily living.