Fitness May Mean A Longer Life
Not even the experts at the Cleveland Clinic were prepared for the findings of this study. It showed that the risk of death among people who don’t exercise is comparable to or even exceeds those posed by cardiovascular disease, diabetes and smoking. These results stem from a study including 122,007 patients, all of whom had their fitness assessed through treadmill tests between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 2014. Based on their performance, the patients were divided into five fitness groups – elite, high, above average, below average and low. Those in the elite group had fitness levels comparable to those of endurance athletes, the researchers reported. They also found that extreme aerobic fitness was linked to the greatest health benefits, particularly in patients age 70 or older and those who had high blood pressure. Results further showed that the risk of death among elite performers (even those with high blood pressure) was 30 percent lower than it was among the next highest group of performers. All told, the study concluded that extreme fitness provides impressive survival benefits compared to more modest fitness levels and that extremely fit patients lived the longest.
My take? These are remarkable results and make a compelling case for stepping up your aerobic activity or getting started if you haven’t been exercising. Wael Jaber, M.D., the Cleveland Clinic cardiologist who headed the study, was quoted in news reports as saying that being unfit “should be treated almost as a disease that has a prescription, which is called exercise.” I have long recommend working toward the goal of routinely performing 30 minutes of some type of aerobic activity at least five days a week. After achieving that, you may want to consider building your daily or weekly routine even further, especially given the results of this new study.
Wael Jaber, MD et al, “Association of Cardiorespiratory Fitness With Long-term Mortality Among Adults Undergoing Exercise Treadmill Testing.” Jama Network Open, October 19, 2018, doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.3605
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