According to a study, spanning 45 years, physical inactivity is the second highest mortality risk factor, only behind smoking.
Now, we all know the health benefits to exercise, and keeping your body moving. Still, researchers out of Sweden embarked on a huge endeavor, when they decided to investigate fitness levels and the effects they have over a lifespan. They also wanted to look into the risk factors, as it relates to cardiovascular disease and mortality. The team used information from the study of Men Born in 1913; where close to 800 males were reviewed for 45 years. Those who participated where 50-year-old males, who were gathered in 1963, in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The participants were asked to complete an exercise test in 1967, and about 656 individuals in this group were asked to participate in a maximum test, where they needed to ‘push the limit’ of their exercise test (some in the study were not asked this, due to health concerns). In addition, a portion of the individuals that participated in the maximum exercise test had their maximal oxygen uptake (VO2) measured, which helped to calculate gas metabolism and respiration while they were being tested. Physical exams were then performed every ten years, until 2012. Cause of death was provided by the National Cause of Death Registry.
To help analyze and offer a link between mortality and VO2 max, the males were divided into three groups, or tertiles, which were organized from lowest to highest (i.e. – 2 liters/minute, 2.26 liters/minute, and 2.56 liters/minute).
Medical News Today reported that once this was established, a pattern developed, with each tertile heightened in VO2 max, showing a 21% decreased risk of death, over the course of the 45 years the study was conducted. This factor was continual, after blood pressure, smoking, and serum cholesterol levels were established.
As lead author of the study, Dr. Per Ladenvall states, the team found that low aerobic activity was linked with an increase rate of death. The effect of physical inactivity and an enhanced risk of death was only second to smoking.
Ladenvall also notes that there have been significant strides made to decrease the number of people who smoke, the next step is getting people active, and staying active.
The study is certainly a unique one, as the length and follow up the research lasted almost half a century. Unlike some studies, this one has allowed for a tremendous amount of data to be organized and reviewed.