May 20, 2009

Fitness Levels May Lower Death Risks

Exercising regularly may offer more benefits than simply shedding extra pounds or relieving stress. A new analysis reveals a direct relationship between a higher level of cardiorespiratory fitness and a lower risk of all-cause death, coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.

Satoru Kodama, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues from the University of Tsukuba Institute of Clinical Medicine in Japan analyzed a total of 187,303 patients for a relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and either all-cause death, coronary heart disease (CHD), or cardiovascular disease (CVD). CRF was represented in metabolic equivalent units -- MET measured via oxygen consumption. Patients were classified as having a low, medium or high CRF.

Results showed participants with a low CRF had a 70 percent higher risk of all-cause death and 56 percent higher risk for CHD or CVD events when compared with participants with a high CRF. When compared with participants with an intermediate CRF, low CRF participants had a 40 percent higher risk of all-cause death and 47 percent increased risk for CHD or CVD.

To remain risk free, researchers recommend maintaining a minimal CRF of 7.9 METS, the equivalent of men walking four miles per hour continuously without exhaustion, or women walking at three miles per hour.

Testing for CFR has been previously overlooked in determining a patient's future risk of coronary heart disease due to the previous inconsistency among studies. Researchers say future testing is needed before clinics will incorporate CRF tests into their practice.

SOURCE: JAMA, May 20, 2009