MAY 02, 2024 3:45 PM PDT

Fitness Cuts the Risk of Death and Disease

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that having higher cardiorespiratory fitness may cut the risk of mortality from any cause by nearly 20%.

The study, which included an overview of systematic reviews, included over 20 million observations from nearly 200 unique cohort studies. All evidence included in the overview was from previous meta-analyses that had evaluated the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and health outcomes.

The results of the analysis showed that for every one MET increase in cardiorespiratory fitness, people reduced their risk of death by 11–17%. A one-MET increase in cardiorespiratory fitness also correlated to around an 18% decrease in the risk of developing heart disease. One MET, or metabolic equivalent of task, is the amount of energy it takes for a person to sit quietly. Different tasks use different amounts of METs; reading can take about 1.3 METs, while running may take around 9 METs.

The authors of the study noted that cardiorespiratory fitness can be thought of as one’s ability to perform a physical activity for a long period of time, such as running or swimming. In the study, low cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with increased risk of premature death as well as a wide variety of diseases, including heart failure, cancer, dementia, diabetes, and depression. In addition to the risk of dying early, those with low cardiorespiratory fitness appear to face higher odds of developing chronic conditions that may lower their quality of life.

To reduce the risk of premature death and the development of chronic health conditions, a simple and effective strategy is regularly participate in exercises that make you breathe heavily. The recommended dose of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is 150 minutes per week, but smaller amounts can also lead to major health improvements.

Sources: British Journal of Sports Medicine, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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