BACKGROUND: Physical activity (PA) has an established favorable impact on cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes and quality of life. In this study, we aimed to estimate the economic effect of moderate-vigorous PA on medical expenditures and utilization from a nationally representative cohort with and without CVD.

METHODS AND RESULTS: The 2012 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data were analyzed. Our study population was limited to noninstitutionalized US adults >/=18 years of age. Variables of interest included CVD (coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, dysrhythmias, or peripheral artery disease) and cardiovascular modifiable risk factors (CRFs; hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, smoking, and/or obesity). Two-part econometric models were utilized to study cost data; a generalized linear model with gamma distribution and link log was used to assess expenditures per capita. The final study sample included 26 239 surveyed individuals. Overall, 47% engaged in moderate-vigorous PA >/=30 minutes, >/=5 days/week, translating to 111.5 million adults in the United States stratifying by CVD status; 32% reported moderate-vigorous PA among those with CVD versus 49% without CVD. Generally, participants reporting moderate-vigorous PA incurred significantly lower health care expenditures and resource utilization, displaying a step-wise lower total annual health care expenditure as moving from CVD to non-CVD (and each CRF category).

CONCLUSIONS: Moderate-vigorous PA >/=30 minutes, >/=5 days/week is associated with significantly lower health care spending and resource utilization among individuals with and without established CVD.

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