Aerobic exercise – running, swimming, aerobic classes, cardio machines, walking, dancing – is often recommended to help maintain good health. Aerobic fitness levels are a decent indicator of overall health.
Researchers from Spain have uncovered that having high aerobic fitness levels can help reduce your risk of death from heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.
The study looked at 12,615 participants aged 18 to 91 with known or suspected coronary artery disease. The participants underwent treadmill exercise echocardiography stress tests, where they either walked or ran until the point of exhaustion.
The results were measured in metabolic equivalents (METs).
A good score was 10 METs, which is equivalent to climbing three of four flights of stairs quickly without stopping or running at a pace of 6.5 miles per hour. For example, a person who climbs four flights of stairs within 45 to 55 seconds would achieve 10 METs.
Participants were then divided into one of two groups: Those who achieved 10 METs or more were deemed to have “good functional capacity,” and those who did not achieve 10 METs were labeled with “poor functional capacity.”
The participants were followed-up with five years later, where the researchers found those in the poor functional capacity group were more likely to have died from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other illnesses. These individuals had triple the risk of early mortality from cardiovascular disease and double the risk of death by cancer within five years compared to those with good functional capacity.
Being more physically fit was linked with greater protection against early mortality. With each MET achieved, the lower the risk of disease was.
The study confirms the importance of exercise and its role in maintaining good health. It is recommended that you engage in physical activity regularly in order to protect your health and reduce your risk of disease. Finding ways to add more exercise to your daily life is an excellent way to add years to your life.