The Importance of Physical Fitness versus Physical Activity for Coronary Artery Disease Risk Factors: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

By Young, Deborah Rohm; Steinhardt, Mary A. | Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, December 1993 | Go to article overview

The Importance of Physical Fitness versus Physical Activity for Coronary Artery Disease Risk Factors: A Cross-Sectional Analysis


Young, Deborah Rohm, Steinhardt, Mary A., Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport


Numerous epidemiological investigations have shown that low physical fitness and low physical activity are related to the incidence of coronary artery disease (CAD). Most studies, however, have not examined both variables concurrently to determine which has the strongest association with CAD risk. The purpose of this investigation was to cross-sectionally examine the relationships among physical fitness, physical activity, and risk factors for CAD. Male law enforcement officers (N = 412) from the City of Austin, Texas, were subjects for this study. Physical fitness, physical activity, and risk factors for CAD were assessed through health screenings and from data collected as part of an annual physical fitness assessment. Multivariate analysis of covariance revealed that physical fitness, but not physical activity, was related to several single CAD risk factors. Percent body fat, smoking habits, and Type A behavior score were negatively related to physical fitness level, and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol was positively related to physical fitness level. Univariate analysis of variance found both physical fitness and physical activity to be significantly related to a composite CAD risk score. Low physical fitness and low physical activity were associated with a high CAD risk score. These data suggest that physical activity must be sufficient to influence physical fitness before statistically significant risk-reducing benefits on single CAD risk factors are obtained, although minimal engagement in weekly vigorous activity provides a significant benefit for the composite CAD risk score. It is plausible, however, that physical fitness is a stronger measure than physical activity and optimally characterizes the relationship among physical activity and CAD risk factors.

Key words: physical fitness, physical activity, cardiovascular disease

It is well accepted that habitual physical activity is related to reduced incidence of coronary artery disease (CAD). Numerous epidemiological studies have documented this association (Leon, Connett, Jacobs, & Rauramaa, 1987; Morris, Everitt, Pollard, Chase, & Semmence, 1980; Morris, Heady, Raffle, Roberts, & Parks, 1953; Paffenbarger & Hale, 1975; Paffenbarger, Hyde, Wing, & Hsieh, 1986; Paffenbarger et al., 1993). Based on these and other investigations, physical inactivity is thought to be an independent predictor of a magnitude similar to the more "traditional" risk factors such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and smoking history (Powell, Thompson, Caspersen, & Kendrick, 1987).

Epidemiological investigations also have documented a relationship between physical fitness and CAD. Low physical work capacity was related to CAD incidence in a large, predominantly white, upper middle-class population (Blair, Kohl, et al., 1989); a sample of Los Angeles County fire and law enforcement employees (Peters, Cady, Bischoff, Bernstein, & Pike, 1983); a population of men with high serum cholesterol levels (Ekelund et al., 1988); and Belgian male factory workers (Sobolski et al., 1987).

Although physical fitness and physical activity are related (e.g., activity at a level that meets specified requirements for intensity, duration, and frequency will result in improved physical fitness; American College of Sports Medicine, 1990), many epidemiological investigations have examined only one of these variables, most commonly physical activity. This is presumably due to the time and expense required to test large populations for fitness and the relative ease in assessment of physical activity. To our knowledge, only one study has looked simultaneously at both variables. Lochen and Rasmussen (1992) found a stronger relationship between physical fitness and coronary risk factors than between leisure-time physical activity and coronary risk factors.

Scientific evidence regarding these relationships is sparse; less-than-optimal information is available to public health professionals on the potential health benefits of physical activity and/or physical fitness.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Importance of Physical Fitness versus Physical Activity for Coronary Artery Disease Risk Factors: A Cross-Sectional Analysis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.