Definitive Study Confirms that Exercise is the Best Health Strategy for Long Life

There is no argument that exercise is good for you, but exactly what benefits—and how much benefit—you receive are somewhat up for debate. Sure, exercise contributes to better health, but not all workouts are the same, and different bodies benefit from different types of exercise.  Furthermore, certain types of exercise seem to benefit different conditions in different ways.

But while there is not necessarily an agreement about what exercise—and how much—you should do to maximize your health, there is one thing that is certain.  According to a new study, a sedentary lifestyle is actually worse for you than smoking, diabetes, and heart disease!

Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Wael Jaber said he was surprised by these results, noting, “Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker.”

Jaber goes on to stress the importance, now, for conveying these risks to the general population.  He says we need to warn that simply being unfit (out of shape) should be considered just as strong a risk factor for mortality as diabetes, smoking, and hypertension. Or perhaps, he adds, it may be an even stronger factor!

For the study, researchers looked health outcomes for 122,007 patients ordered to undertake treadmill tests between January 1, 1991, and December 31, 2014.  The study measured all-cause mortality relating to the benefits of fitness and exercise.  The lowest exercise group accounted for only 12 percent of the total participants.

More importantly, Jaber advises that the research seems to intimate that fitness, in general, leads to a longer life and that there is no limit to the benefits [of aerobic exercise].  In addition, he states that researchers, in the past, have expressed consistent concern about “ultra exercises” but this study assures there is no need for it.  Indeed, he comments, “There is no level of exercise or fitness that exposes you to risk. We can see from the study that the ultra-fit still have lower mortality.”

And most importantly, perhaps, Jaber also comments that the benefits of exercise appear to affect all ages and genders.  While there is a slight intimation that females may experience slightly higher benefits, the conclusion is simple: anyone and everyone will benefit from implementing consistent [aerobic] exercise to their lifestyle.

The results of this study have been published in the journal JAMA Network Open.