FRIDAY, April 12, 2019 (HealthDay News) – Regardless of your fitness level, adding a bit of exercise could extend your life, according to new research.
"People think that they have to start going to the gym and exercising to get in shape," said researcher Elin Ekblom-Bak, of the Swedish School of Sports Sciences. and the health of Stockholm.
"But it does not have to be so complicated. For most people, being more active in everyday life – taking the stairs, getting out of the subway early, going to work by bike – is enough to benefit the health because the levels are so low to begin with, "she said. The more you do, the better. "
Ekblom-Bak and colleagues examined more than 316,000 Swedish adults aged 18 to 74 whose cardiopulmonary (cardiorespiratory) condition was assessed between 1995 and 2015.
Participants conducted a stationary cycle to determine the maximum amount of oxygen that the heart and lungs can provide to the muscles during exercise, a measurement called VO2 max.
Overall, the risk of all-cause death and death from cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes decreased from 2.8% to 3.2% for each milliliter increase in VO2max. The benefits of increased activity have been observed in men and women, in all age groups and at all fitness levels.
The study was to be presented Friday at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology, in Lisbon, Portugal. Such research is considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.
"It's especially important to note that an increase in fitness was beneficial, regardless of the starting point," Ekblom-Bak said in a press release. "This suggests that people with a lower cardiorespiratory fitness level have everything to gain by improving their fitness."
She said the results are "more motivating than just telling people that they need to do better." People in the lower VO2 max bracket will further reduce their risk. [9%] while those at the upper end of VO2 max will reduce their risk by 1%, "she said.
Improving fitness should be a public health priority and doctors should evaluate the physical condition of patients during screening, according to Ekblom-Bak.
"Our previous research has shown that the fitness level of the general population has dropped by 10% over the past 25 years," she noted.
"In 2016-17, almost one in two men and women had low fitness levels, so it's a huge problem," Ekblom-Bak added. "Poor physical condition is as detrimental as smoking, obesity and diabetes, even in healthy adults, but unlike these other risk factors, it's not consistently measured."