We all know that physical activities provide us with several physical and emotional health benefits. A study has found that not exercising can put your health at risk than diabetes, heart disease and smoking.
In a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open on October 19, 2018, researchers reviewed data from treadmill exercise testing carried out at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio. The researchers studied 122,007 patients who underwent treadmill exercise testing or cardiovascular stress testing between January 1991 and December 2014.
These tests were carried out as part of regular checkups or for lung and heart assessments on men and women between the age of 18 and 80-plus.
Based on the results of the test, researchers divided data on the cardiorespiratory fitness of the patients into five performance groups or categories: elite, above average, below average and low.
The lead author Kyle Mandsager, MD, an electrophysiology fellow at the Cleveland Clinic says, “We were particularly interested in the relationship between extremely high fitness and mortality.” “This relationship has never been looked at using objectively measured fitness, and such a large scale.”
Clinical risk factors for mortality
The researcher says, “The increase in all-cause mortality associated with reduced cardiorespiratory fitness was greater than or comparable to the traditional clinic risk factors,” including smoking, diabetes and coronary artery disease.
Wael Jaber, MD, a senior author of the study and a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic says, “The more time you’re able to spend on the treadmill stress test, the more it’s similar to the effect that you derive from reducing risk factors.” He says, “If you treat a person for hypertension, for instance, or high cholesterol, you would expect a certain reduction in mortality.”
Other important findings of this study are:
- Increased lung and heart fitness was directly associated with living longer lives
- Extreme aerobic fitness was associated with many benefits, especially in patients with high blood pressure and patients above 70.
- There was no negative effect as aerobic exercise increased.
How much exercise is too much?
The investigators said they were really surprised to find that extreme levels of exercise didn’t have any negative consequences. According to Dr, Jaber, “We found in our study there is no limit to how much exercise is too much.”
The results of this research contrast with some previous research like the January 2012 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, which suggested that there could be a risk, albeit low, of cardiac arrest associated with participating in long-distance races.
Dr. Jaber says that physically active people or those who lead sedentary lifestyles who want to boost their exercise regimen should work with a physician to develop the right exercise prescription for them.
RELATED: Stroke causes and prevention
Guidelines on physical activity
Based on the Department of Health and Human Services most recent physical activity guidelines published in 2008:
- Children and adolescents should do at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Adults should do 150 minutes or more moderate-intensity a week or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity or an equivalent combination.
- Older adults should be as physically active as their conditions and abilities allow.
- For more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity a week or 150 minutes vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity a week or an equivalent combination.
The bottom line
According to Nieca Goldberg, MD, a cardiologist and medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women Health at NYU Langone Medical Center NYC, it is not too late to benefit from physical activity.
Dr. Goldberg says, “Even if you are not fit if you start exercising and stick with it, you can lower your risk of heart disease and improve survival.”
According to David Sagbir, MD, a cardiologist in Columbus, Ohio, it is not easy to get started on a physical activity program, but you just have to start from somewhere.
Ask your doctor to prescribe the right exercise for you and if you want to go harder, let your doctor lead you.