The study aimed to investigate whether meeting leisure time physical activity recommendations was associated with reduced incident and fatal cancer or cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a community-based cohort of middle- to late-aged adults with long-term follow-up. At baseline, 2,320 individuals were assessed on a large number of lifestyle and clinical parameters including their level of physical activity per week, other risk factors (e.g. smoking and alcohol use) various anthropometric measures, blood tests and medical history. Individuals were linked to hospital and mortality registry data to identify future cancer and cardiovascular events (fatal and non-fatal) out to 15 years of follow-up. Cox regression analyses adjusted for relevant confounders identified a priori were used to estimate risk for all-cause, cancer-specific and CVD-specific mortality. In the full cohort an estimated 21 % decreased risk for all-cause mortality (HR 0.79; 95 % CI 0.66-0.96) and 22 % decreased risk for fatal/non-fatal CVD events (HR 0.78; 95 % CI 0.66-0.92) was associated with baseline self-reported physical activity levels of 150 min or more. After exclusion of those with chronic co-morbidities (CVD, cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension treatment) at baseline, lower risk for fatal/non-fatal CVD events remained significantly associated with 150 min or more of physical activity (HR 0.77; 95 % CI 0.62-0.96). Results from this well established prospective community-based cohort study support the role of leisure time physical activity in reducing all-cause mortality and CVD events (fatal/nonfatal) in the broader population studied. The data also suggest that physical activity associated reductions in risk for CVD events (fatal/nonfatal) were not overly impacted by prevalent key non-communicable diseases.