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Cardiovascular Fitness and Longevity

Experts say there is no downside to high fitness levels.

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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-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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