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Fit already? Become super fit, and you will live even longer

The effect of fitness has never been studied as thoroughly as in the study that American researchers published a week ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open. More than 120,000 patients participated in this research, of which the outcomes exceed the wildest expectations. Not only does the study show that even fit people can reduce their mortality risk by becoming even fitter, the research also shows that fitness is more important than cardiovascular diseases, diabetes - and even smoking...

Researchers from the American Cleveland Clinic analyzed the data of 122,007 patients who visited the hospital between 1991 and 2014. During that visit, the researchers tested the fitness of the patients by letting walk or run on a treadmill.

Fit already? Become super fit, and you will live even longer

Based on their fitness levels, the study participants were divided into 5 groups.

The researchers followed the participants on average for a little over 8 years, and kept track of which of them died.

The fitter the participants were, the lower their mortality risk in the period after the test. In the figure below, factors such as age, gender, body weight, exercise and illness have been eliminated.

Fit already? Become super fit, and you will live even longer

Low fitness levels increased the risk of mortality by a factor of 5. Fitness was a greater factor than smoking [increased the risk of death by a factor of 1.4], cardiovascular disease [increased the risk of death by a factor of 1.29] and diabetes [increased the risk of death by a factor of 1.4].

When the researchers made a comparison between the study participants with high fitness and the participants with elite fitness levels, they saw that within the over-sixties and people with high blood pressure elite fitness levels significantly lowered mortality risk.

Fit already? Become super fit, and you will live even longer

"Increased cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with reduced long-term mortality with no observed upper limit of benefit", write the researchers. "The adjusted mortality risk of reduced cardiorespiratory fitness was greater than or equal to traditional clinical risk factors, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and smoking. Extreme aerobic fitness was associated with the greatest survival and was notably beneficial in older patients and those with hypertension."

"Aerobic fitness is something that most patients can control. And we found in our study there is no limit to how much exercise is too much", says reserach leader and cardiologist Wael Jaber in a press release. [ 19-Oct-2018] "Everyone should be encouraged to achieve and maintain high fitness levels."

JAMA Network Open. 2018;1(6):e183605.

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