Ethnicity & Health

Vásquez, Elizabeth, Karine Sahakyan, John A. Batsis, Cassandra Germain, Virend K. Somers, and Benjamin A. Shaw*


This study sought to determine whether the association between varying levels of physical activity (PA) and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality differ by race/ethnicity in older adults.
The sample comprised 2520 women and 2398 men drawn from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (1988–1994) aged ≥ 60 years. We used the metabolic equivalent (MET) of self-reported PA levels to define activity groups (inactive: those who did not report any PA; active: those who reported 3–6 METs for ≥5 times/week or >6 METs, ≥3 times/week; insufficiently active: those meeting neither criteria). Racial/Ethnic differences were modeled using proportional hazard regression (HR) adjusting for age, education, smoking, diabetes, and hypertension.
Among those classified as inactive, Non-Hispanic Blacks (NHB) (HR: 0.72, 95% CI: 0.58–0.90) and Mexican Americans (HR: 0.59, 95%CI: 0.45–0.78) had a lower risk of all-cause mortality when compared to non-Hispanic Whites (NHW). Among those classified as insufficiently active, Mexican Americans (HR: 0.63, 95% CI: 0.51–0.77), but not NHB (HR: 0.81, (95% CI: 0.64–1.02) had a lower risk of all-cause mortality when compared to NHWs Similar results were observed for cardiovascular mortality.
Overall, PA in the elderly (either insufficient or active) is associated with a lower all-cause mortality across all race/ethnic groups as compared to NHW. Further investigation, including studies with larger sample, is needed to address the health consequences of varying degrees of PA in ethnically diverse populations.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff