Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Physical fitness trumps body weight in reducing death risks, study finds

Date:
December 5, 2011
Source:
American Heart Association
Summary:
Maintaining or improving physical fitness is linked to lower death risks even after controlling for BMI change, according to a new study. Becoming less fit is associated with higher death risks, regardless of BMI changes. BMI change was not associated with death risks.

If you maintain or improve your fitness level -- even if your body weight has not changed or increased -- you can reduce your risk of death, according to research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Related Articles


In a study of 14,345 adult men, mostly white and middle or upper class, researchers found that:

  • Maintaining or improving fitness was associated with a lower death risk even after controlling for Body Mass Index (BMI) change.
  • Every unit of increased fitness (measured as MET, metabolic equivalent of task) over six years was associated with a 19 percent lower risk of heart disease and stroke-related deaths and a 15 percent lower risk of death from any cause.
  • Becoming less fit was linked to higher death risk, regardless of BMI changes.
  • BMI change was not associated with death risks.

BMI is a measurement based on weight and height (kg/m2). MET measures the intensity of aerobic exercise -- specifically, the ratio of metabolic rate during a specific physical activity to a reference rate of metabolic rate at rest.

"This is good news for people who are physically active but can't seem to lose weight," said Duck-chul Lee, Ph.D., the study's lead researcher and physical activity epidemiologist in the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health in Columbia. "You can worry less about your weight as long as you continue to maintain or increase your fitness levels."

Results of the study underscore the importance of physical inactivity as a risk factor for death from heart disease and stroke, said researchers. Researchers also found no association between changes in body fat percentage or body weight and death risk.

Participants, who were an average 44 years old, were part of the long-term, large-scale Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. They underwent at least two comprehensive medical exams.

Researchers used maximal treadmill tests to estimate physical fitness (maximal METs), and height and weight measurements to calculate BMI. They recorded changes in BMI and physical fitness over six years.

After more than 11 years of follow-up, researchers determined the relative risks of dying among men who lost, maintained or gained fitness over six years. They accounted for other factors that can affect outcomes, including BMI change, age, family history of heart disease, beginning fitness level, changes in lifestyle factors such as smoking and physical activity, and medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

One possible explanation for these results: about 90 percent of the men were either normal weight or overweight at the beginning of the study. Among obese people, changes in BMI might have a significant effect on death risks. So it's unclear whether these results would apply to severely obese people, Lee said.

A BMI score under 25 is considered healthy, 25 to less than 30 is overweight, and 30 or greater is obese.

Because the study was mostly done in white middle and upper class men, it's difficult to know whether the results apply to other racial and socioeconomic groups. Women would likely have similar results as the men in the study, Lee said.

Co-authors are: Xuemei Sui, M.D., M.P.H.; Enrique G. Artero, Ph.D.; I-Min Lee, M.B.B.S., M.P.H., Sc.D.; Timothy S. Church, M.D., Ph.D.; Paul A. McAuley, Ph.D.; Fatima C. Stanford, M.D., M.P.H.; Harold W. Kohl, III, Ph.D., M.S.P.H.; and Steven N. Blair, P.E.D.

This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and by an unrestricted research grant from The Coca-Cola Company.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Heart Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Duck-Chul Lee, Xuemei Sui, Enrique G. Artero, I-Min Lee, Timothy S. Church, Paul A. Mcauley, Fatima C. Stanford, Harold W. Kohl III, Steven N. Blair. Long-Term Effects of Changes in Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Body Mass Index on All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in Men: The Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. Circulation., 2011; 124: 2483-2490 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.038422

Cite This Page:

American Heart Association. "Physical fitness trumps body weight in reducing death risks, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111205165120.htm>.
American Heart Association. (2011, December 5). Physical fitness trumps body weight in reducing death risks, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111205165120.htm
American Heart Association. "Physical fitness trumps body weight in reducing death risks, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111205165120.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins