Cardiovascular Fitness and Longevity

Experts say there is no downside to high fitness levels.

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA
Jan 11, 2019

Extremely fit patients live longer than less fit peers, according to research conducted at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “We found in our study there is no limit in how much exercise is too much,” said principal investigator Wael Jaber, MD, Cleveland Clinic cardiologist. “Everyone should be encouraged to achieve and maintain high fitness levels.” The study’s purpose was to examine the relationship between high fitness levels and longevity as compared with more modest levels of cardiovascular fitness.

Researchers analyzed data from over 122,000 patients, who had taken exercise treadmill tests between 1991 and 2014, to measure risk of death from any cause and its relationship to fitness levels and exercise. Higher cardiorespiratory fitness levels were directly associated with longer life. Extreme cardiovascular fitness carried the most
benefit, especially for patients aged 70 and older and those with hypertension. Study authors noted that healthcare professionals should encourage patients to maintain high fitness levels for optimal health.

The study is available in JAMA Network Open (2018; doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.3605).


Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at

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