Physical Activity and Men


Physical Activity (PA) is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure - including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling, and engaging in recreational pursuits. Regular moderate intensity physical activity – such as walking, cycling, or participating in sports – has significant benefits for health. For instance, it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, colon and breast cancer and depression. Moreover, adequate levels of physical activity will decrease the risk of a hip or vertebral fracture and help control weight[1].According to World Health Organisation (WHO), men were slightly more physically active than women in 2010 globally. Overall around 23% of adults aged 18 and over were not active enough in 2010 (men 20% and women 27%) [2].

To find out more about gender differences in physical activity and sedentary time, you can view this video below:

The benefits of physical activity in men with cardiovascular diseases

In a meta-analysis study, Sattelmair et al found that physical activity clearly could decrease the risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD). However, it is less clear how much of physical activity is needed. Individuals who were engaged in the equivalent of 150 mins per week of moderate-intensity leisure-time physical activity had a 14% lower CHD risk. Those engaging in the equivalent of 300 min/week of moderate-intensity leisure-time activity had a 20% lower risk. Persons who were physically active at levels lower than the minimum amount recommended also had a significantly lower risk of CHD [3]. In a large prospective study of U.S. men vigorous-intensity physical activity, even at ≥ 70 MET-hours per week, was associated with decreased risk of incident of major chronic disease and total cardiovascular disease. Moderate-intensity physical activity was also associated with decreased risk, Running, tennis, and brisk walking were each associated with reduced risk for developing of cardiovascular disease [4].

The benefits of physical activity in men with chronic conditions

Robertson et al in a systematic review revealed that weight reduction for men is best achieved and maintained with combination of reducing diet, physical activity or physical activity programme and behaviour change techniques [5]. In a longitudinal study, increased intensity of physical activity was associated with loss of fat mass in severely obese men [6]. Higher levels of physical activity were associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes in a cohort study conducted by Ekelund et al [7].In a prospective cohort study it has been found that higher levels of leisure-time physical activity may lower risk of chronic pelvic pain syndrome and chronic prostatitis in middle-aged and older men[8].

The benefits of physical activity in men with prostate cancer

Bourke et al in a conducted systematic review, which included 16 randomised control trials investigated the effects of exercise on cancer-specific quality of life in men with prostate cancer. It was found high quality evidence that exercise interventions can improve cancer specific quality of life and cancer specific fatigue in men with prostate cancer at up to 6 months of follow up. Positive beneficial effects were also evident for lower body strength and aerobic fitness[9]. A follow-up study has found that physical activity was associated with lower overall mortality in men with prostate cancer. Both non-vigorous activity and vigorous activity showed significant results [10]. However, exercising as a factor to reduce the risk of prostate cancer is still not clear[11].

For further information you can watch this video on Activity and Prostate Cancer:


  1. World Health Organization. Physical Activity. Available from: 18 April 2018).
  2. World Health Organization. Physical Activity. Available from: (Accessed 18 April 2018).
  3. Sattelmair J, Pertman J, Ding E, Kohl H, Haskell W, Lee I.Dose response between physical activity and risk of coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis. Circulation 2011; ;124(7):789-95.
  4. Chomistek A, Cook N, Flint A,Rimm E. Vigorous-intensity leisure-time physical activity and risk of major chronic disease in men.Med Sci Sports Exerc 2012; 44:1898–1905.
  5. Robertson C, Archibald D, Avenell A, Douglas F, Hoddinott P, Teijlingen et al.Systematic reviews of and integrated report on the quantitative, qualitative and economic evidence base for the management of obesity in men. Health Technol Assess 2014;18(35).
  6. Aadland E, Jepsen R, Andersen J, Anderssen S. Differences in fat loss in response to physical activity among severely obese men and women. J Rehabil Med 2014;46:363-9.
  7. Ekelund U, Palla L, Brage S, Franks P, Peters T, Balkau B et al.Physical activity reduces the risk of incident type 2 diabetes in general and in abdominally lean and obese men and women: the EPIC-InterAct Study. Diabetologia 2012 ;55:1944-52.
  8. Zhang R, Andrea K, Chomistek J, Dimitrakoff E,. Giovannucci W. Willett B. Physical Activity and Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2015; 47: 757–764.
  9. Bourke L, Smith D, Steed L, Hooper R, Carter A, Catto J, et al. Exercise for Men with Prostate Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.Eur Urol 2016;69:693-703.
  10. Kenfield S, Stampfer M, Giovannucci E, Chan J. Physical Activity and Survival After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2011;29:726-732.
  11. Shephard RJ. Physical activity and prostate cancer: an updated review. Sports Medicine. 2017 Jun 1;47(6):1055-73.