Increased exercise capacity reduces the risk of death in African-American and Caucasian men, researchers reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
The government-supported Veterans Affairs study included 15,660 participants and is the largest known to assess the link between fitness and mortality.
Relatively moderate levels of physical activity, such as brisk walking, will attain the associated health benefits. Certainly, one does not need to be a marathon runner. "This is the message that we need to convey to the public," said Peter Kokkinos, Ph.D., lead author of the study and director of the Exercise Testing and Research Lab in the cardiology department at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Veterans were tested by a standardized treadmill test to assess exercise capacity between May 1983 and December 2006 at Veterans Affairs medical centers in Washington, D.C., and Palo Alto, Calif. These individuals were then followed for an average of 7.5 years and death rates were recorded.
The study found that "highly fit" men had half the risk of death compared to "low fit" men. Men who achieved "very highly fit" levels had a 70 percent lower risk of death compared to those in the "low fit" category.
"Our findings show that the risk of death is cut in half with an exercise capacity that can easily be achieved by a brisk walk of about 30 minutes per session 5-6 days per week," he added. "Physicians should encourage individuals to initiate and maintain a physically active lifestyle, which is likely to improve fitness and lower the risk of death. Individuals should also discuss exercise with their physician before embarking on an exercise program."
from a news release of the American Heart Association, "Daily exercise dramatically lowers men's death rates", Jan 22, 2008
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