Impact of Physical Activity on Disease and Mortality: Evidence from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Sarah Yildirim1, *
1 Choate Rosemary Hall Wallingford, CT, USA

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Creative Commons License
© 2023 Sarah and Yildirim

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Choate Rosemary Hall Wallingford, CT, USA; E-mail:



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States recommends the amount and the types of physical activity needed to maintain and improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Previous studies have shown that multiple objective physical activities obtained from continuously monitored accelerometer data are associated with mortality.


This paper first analyzes the individual characteristics of the participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) who wore an accelerometer between 2003-2006.


It studies the association between objectively measured physical activity intensity and several prevalent diseases and mortality.


Key findings include: (1) physical activity is positively associated with education level and negatively associated with obesity, diabetes, chronic heart failure, and smoking. (2) physical activity is associated with a lower mortality rate after controlling the current health status and smoking habits.


In this regard, this study contributes to the public health literature on physical activities by incorporating the individual characteristics of the national health survey participants into the analyses and linking those characteristics to the relationship between physical activity and different types of major diseases, which was less addressed in previous studies.

Keywords: Physical activity, Diseases, Mortality, Public health, Smoking habits, NHANES.