Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Physical activity and sleep duration are established risk factors for many diseases, but their aetiology is poorly understood, partly due to relying on self-reported evidence. Here we report a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of device-measured physical activity and sleep duration in 91,105 UK Biobank participants, finding 14 significant loci (7 novel). These loci account for 0.06% of activity and 0.39% of sleep duration variation. Genome-wide estimates of ~ 15% phenotypic variation indicate high polygenicity. Heritability is higher in women than men for overall activity (23 vs. 20%, p = 1.5 × 10-4) and sedentary behaviours (18 vs. 15%, p = 9.7 × 10-4). Heritability partitioning, enrichment and pathway analyses indicate the central nervous system plays a role in activity behaviours. Two-sample Mendelian randomisation suggests that increased activity might causally lower diastolic blood pressure (beta mmHg/SD: -0.91, SE = 0.18, p = 8.2 × 10-7), and odds of hypertension (Odds ratio/SD: 0.84, SE = 0.03, p = 4.9 × 10-8). Our results advocate the value of physical activity for reducing blood pressure.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Accelerometry, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Exercise, Female, Genetic Loci, Genome-Wide Association Study, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Sex Factors, Sleep, Young Adult