INTRODUCTION: Previous studies have shown that high levels of physical activity are associated with lower mortality in middle-aged men. Few studies have investigated this association in women and the independent effects of cycling to work and participation in sports. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The participants were 13,445 women and 17,441 men aged 20 to 93 years. Self-reported physical activity included general questions about leisure time physical activity and physical activity at work, sports participation, and cycling to work. Adjustment was made for blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglyceride, body mass index, smoking, and educational level. RESULTS: During 433,000 person-years of observation, 2738 women and 4672 men died. Physical inactivity during leisure time predicted mortality in both men and women in all age groups. In women and men, the most physically active in leisure time experienced only half the mortality of the sedentary. Even in the moderately and highly active persons, sports participants experienced only half the mortality of non-participants. Physical activity at work predicted mortality in women only. The men and women who rode a bicycle to work had a 39% lower risk of mortality after multivariate adjustment including leisure time physical activity. DISCUSSION: Leisure time physical activity was inversely associated with all-cause mortality in both men and women in all age groups. Benefit was found from moderate leisure time physical activity with further benefit from sports activity and bicycling as transportation. Benefit from physical activity at work was found in women only.