It’s a sad but inevitable part of life that most of us aren’t as fit nowadays as we were when we were young. Remember the time when you used to jog, cycle and play sport? Well, for most of us that’s quite a while back. As you get older pastimes tend to become more sedentary, gentle walks replace jogs and we turn from playing sport to watching it.
For those of us for whom this is true, there is now another very important reason to get up off the couch and join exercise devotees, as they puff away and sweat it out on treadmills and exercise bikes around the country.
A US study has just found that improved fitness might add years to your life.
Yes, that’s right – years.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the US and other developed countries like Australia and this new study shows that even relatively small improvements in cardiovascular fitness have been associated with reductions in mortality of about 10 to 25 per cent.
The director of Ball State’s Fisher Institute for Wellness and Gerontology, Leonard Kaminsky, said the study provides the first true reference standards for interpreting measured cardiorespiratory fitness, allowing the healthcare community to help people as they age.
“The data provide us information that can be used as a baseline to help monitor cardiovascular fitness for individuals,” he said.
“Knowing an individual’s exercise capability relative to their peers’ will not only help optimise risk evaluation but also can provide support for physical activity counselling.”
The Ball State University study found the average American loses about 10 percent of cardiorespiratory fitness a decade after they turn 20.
Over the decades, cardiovascular fitness remains higher for men than women, but still both decline at similar rates.
Professor Kaminsky noted low cardiovascular fitness is one of the most important determinates of health outcomes, but it is often neglected in favour of risk markers more familiar to more clinicians who are likely to focus on conditions treatable with drugs or invasive procedures.
More findings will be released when the study is published in the November issue of Mayo Clinic Proceeding.
Want to know how you measure up with other people your age fitness-wise? Check out this new online fitness calculator.
As always, before making any major lifestyle changes that concern your health, check with your doctor first.
Do the study’s findings surprise you? Will you try and make exercise more a part of your life now you know it can extend your life? Or are you already exercising every day and these findings just cement the benefits?