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OBJECTIVE--To examine the associations between physical activity and a wide range of risk factors for ischaemic heart disease including fibrinogen concentration and viscosity. DESIGN--Cross sectional evidence from the 2398 men aged 50-64 years in the Caerphilly Prospective Heart Disease Study. METHODS--Validated questionnaires were used to quantify energy expenditure on leisure activities and to grade activities related to occupation. Risk factors for heart disease examined included blood pressure, lipids, fibrinogen, and plasma viscosity. Possible confounding variables included smoking, employment, and prevalent heart disease (angina, previous myocardial infarction, and electrocardiographic evidence of ischaemia). RESULTS--Fibrinogen concentration was lower by 0.24 g/l and viscosity by 0.026 cP in the third of men who were most active in leisure activities (about 0.25 x 1 SD). A weak positive relation was found with high density lipoprotein cholesterol, but none with total cholesterol or fasting glucose concentrations or blood pressure. Triglyceride concentrations seem to be substantially lower in the most active men, although the evidence for this is not consistent. Work related activity showed relation with the lipid concentration but not with the haemostatic tests. CONCLUSIONS--Leisure activities of all levels seem to affect haemostatic and lipid factors beneficially. These effects correspond to a difference in the risk of heart disease for an active man and a sedentary man of at least 7% or 8%. Fasting triglyceride concentrations have already been shown to be strongly predictive of heart disease in this cohort of men, and the effect of exercise on this factor is also likely to confer benefit.