Not exercising may be worse than smoking

Having cardiovascular fitness is important all through life.

New research out of the US has found that a sedentary lifestyle impacts long-term health more than smoking, diabetes and heart disease.

Researchers wanted to find the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and long-term mortality.

What they discovered was that having cardio fitness was inversely associated with all-cause mortality.

That is, the more fit you are, the lower your risk of dying from any cause. In addition, the study found there was no cap on the benefits of fitness, meaning that the fitter you are, the healthier you are likely to be.

The study looked at data from more than 122,000 patients who had undergone exercise treadmill testing over the past 27 years.

The study found that, adjusted for risk factors, all-cause mortality was “inversely proportional to cardiorespiratory fitness and was lowest in elite performers”. That is, the fitter you are, the more benefits of cardio fitness you have.

In fact, the researchers said in their conclusion that extreme aerobic fitness was associated with the greatest survival. It was also notably of greater benefit to older people and people with high blood pressure.

In addition, not having cardio fitness was deemed to a have greater or equal risk to risk factors such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and smoking. Based on these results, the researchers recommend that health care professionals should encourage patients to maintain high levels of fitness throughout their lives.


Mandsager, K. et al. (2018.) ‘Association of Cardiorespiratory Fitness With Long-term Mortality Among Adults Undergoing Exercise Treadmill Testing.’ JAMA Netw Open.

2018;1(6):e183605. October 19, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.3605

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