A new study finds not exercising to be a significant risk factor to death. In fact, it was found to be just as significant, if not more so, compared to other risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, and heart disease.

Treadmill Test

In a new study, researchers found just how important exercise is when it comes to long-term mortality. To find the association between all-cause mortality and cardiorespiratory health in patients undergoing treadmill testing, researchers studied 122,007 patients between Jan. 1, 1991 up to Dec. 31, 2014, and divided them into five performance groups or levels of fitness.

What researchers found was an inverse association between cardiorespiratory health and mortality risk, in that the people with the highest cardiorespiratory or aerobic fitness had the lowest mortality risk, with benefits being especially seen among the older participants and those with hypertension. 

In fact, they found that those who were unfit in the treadmill had worse prognosis in regard to death risk compared to smokers, those who are hypertensive, or those who have diabetes. 

No Limit To The Benefits

“With every increment of time spent on the treadmill during the exercise stress test, there is a benefit as far as mortality,” said study co-author Wael Jaber, M.D., likening exercise to medication. Simply put, the results show that having higher fitness levels could play an important role in living longer lives.  

Interestingly, the researchers also found no age or gender limit to the benefits of exercise, in that even those who are elderly or those with a history of heart risk factors and heart disease can still benefit from the regiment. Furthermore, they also found no upper limit to the benefits, which means that they saw no point at which “too much” cardiac fitness already leads to negative impacts on longevity.

Exercise Prescription

It is no secret that exercise is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Although people have their own choices when it comes to their exercise routines, what’s important is that they get their body moving. In fact, a past study has even shown that simply replacing 30 minutes of sedentary time with 30 minutes of housework can benefit health, while another revealed that replacing 6 hours of sitting with 6 hours of standing can even help with weight loss.

With the results of the new study, the researchers note the importance of fitness when it comes to long-term mortality, and even encourage patients to also ask for an exercise prescription from their doctors.

“Cardiorespiratory fitness is a modifiable indicator of long-term mortality, and health care professionals should encourage patients to achieve and maintain high levels of fitness,” said the researchers.

The study is published in JAMA Network Open.

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