The Significant Inverse Link Between Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Mortality
A new paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and death in 122,000 Americans from 1991 to 2014. Highlights from the paper include:
1. The highest level performers of CRF had an 80% reduction in risk of mortality (death) compared to the lowest performers. (yes, we will all die at some point, but what “80% less risk” means is that at any given point in time, those in the highest fitness bracket had 80% less chance of dying compared to those in the lowest. For example, if someone in the lowest bracket had a 1% chance of dying tomorrow, a person in the highest CRF bracket would have a 0.2% chance of dying)
2. CRF was a better predictor (or just as good) of death than smoking, coronary artery disease or diabetes
3. There was no observed upper limit to the benefit. In other words, the risk of death kept decreasing with increasing levels of CRF.
Why is this study important?
The large scale of the study (122,000 people) increases the importance of the study. We all know that physical fitness improves mortality (death), morbidity (sickness and disease) and helps with physical functioning as we age, but what intrigues me about this study is that it showed no upper limit in the risk of death reduction with increasing fitness levels. We frequently hear, “30 minutes per day, 5 days per week is all you need”. Well, this paper shows that MORE IS ACTUALLY BETTER!