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Multimorbidity in Atlantic Canada and association with low levels of physical activity.

Authors: Keats, M., Cui, Y., DeClercq, V., Dummer, T.J.B., Forbes, C., Grandy, S., Hicks, J., Sweeney, E., Yu, Z.M., Parker, L. (2017).

Journal: Preventive Medicine, 105.


Owing to an aging population and medical advances, the anticipated growth and prevalence of multimorbidity has been recognized as a significant challenge and priority in health care settings. Although physical activity has been shown to play a vital role in the primary and secondary prevention of chronic disease, much less is known about the relationship between physical activity and multimorbidity. The objective of the present study was to examine the relationship between physical activity levels and multimorbidity in male and female adults after adjusting for key demographic, geographical, and lifestyle factors. The study drew data from a prospective cohort in Atlantic Canada (2009-2015). The sample included 18,709 participants between the ages of 35-69. Eighteen chronic diseases were identified. Physical activity levels were estimated based on the long form of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Using logistic regression analysis, we found that multimorbid individuals were significantly more likely to be physically inactive (OR=1.26; 95% CI 1.10, 1.44) after adjusting for key sociodemographic and lifestyle characteristics. Additional stratified analyses suggest that the magnitude of the effect between multimorbidity and physical activity was stronger for men (OR=1.41; 95% CI 1.12, 1.79) than women (OR=1.18; CI 1.00, 1.39) and those living in rural (OR=1.43; CI 1.10, 1.85) versus urban (OR=1.20; CI 1.02, 141) areas. Given the generally low levels of physical activity across populations and a growing prevalence of multimorbidity, there is a need for a prospective study to explore causal associations between physical activity, multimorbidity, and health outcomes.

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