A new study claims a lack of exercise may be more harmful to health than traditional risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease.
For the purpose of the study, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic examined more than 122,000 patients who participated in treadmill testing conducted January 1, 1991, to December 31, 2014. The participants were divided into five performance groups- elite, high, above average, below average and low. Elite performers had aerobic fitness in the top 2.5 percent by age and gender and demonstrated fitness levels comparable to endurance athletes.
The research results found there is a strong connection between high levels of exercise and a healthier life.
The results found greater cardiorespiratory fitness was linked to a longer life. Furthermore, extreme fitness offered better benefits than moderate fitness, especially for individuals with hypertension and people aged 70 or older. Notably, elite performers had a nearly 30 percent reduced risk of mortality compared to those rated as high performers.
According to the researchers, there was no point where a person could be too fit, meaning there was no indication that much cardiac fitness could negatively impact longevity. The finding contradicts several other recent studies that claimed extreme exercise is linked to certain heart problems, including atrial fibrillation and coronary artery disease.
“Aerobic fitness is something that most patients can control,” said Dr. Wael Jaber, lead author of the study. “And we found in our study there is no limit to how much exercise is too much.”
Dr. Jaber is a cardiologist with Cleveland Clinic.
The American Heart Association recommends every person to perform at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
The study was in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open.