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Fitness Beats Weight Loss For Healthy Aging

  • From: Epidemiology and Prevention.
  • Title: Long-Term Effects of Changes on Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Body Mass Index on All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in Men
  • Author: Duck-chul Lee
  • The Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study
  1. Abstract

Background—The combined associations of changes in cardiorespiratory fitness and body mass index (BMI) with mortality remain controversial  and uncertain.

Methods and Results—We examined the independent and combined associations of changes in fitness and BMI with all-cause and cardiovascular disease  (CVD) mortality in 14 345 men (mean age 44 years) with at least 2 medical examinations. Fitness, in metabolic equivalents  (METs), was estimated from a maximal treadmill test. BMI was calculated using measured weight and height. Changes in fitness  and BMI between the baseline and last examinations over 6.3 years were classified into loss, stable, or gain groups. During  11.4 years of follow-up after the last examination, 914 all-cause and 300 CVD deaths occurred. The hazard ratios (95% confidence  intervals) of all-cause and CVD mortality were 0.70 (0.59–0.83) and 0.73 (0.54–0.98) for stable fitness, and 0.61 (0.51–0.73)  and 0.58 (0.42–0.80) for fitness gain, respectively, compared with fitness loss in multivariable analyses including BMI change.  Every 1-MET improvement was associated with 15% and 19% lower risk of all-cause and CVD mortality, respectively. BMI change  was not associated with all-cause or CVD mortality after adjusting for possible confounders and fitness change. In the combined  analyses, men who lost fitness had higher all-cause and CVD mortality risks regardless of BMI change.

Conclusions—Maintaining or improving fitness is associated with a lower risk of all-cause and CVD mortality in men. Preventing age-associated fitness loss is important for longevity regardless of BMI change.

dr. Tucker’s thoughts:  I think it is important to keep your weight at a healthy level, this study found that weight loss (defined as lowering a person’s body-mass index) was not associated with a reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality (dying from anything) or cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality.

What the researchers did find is that those men who keep their fitness level stable significantly reduced their risk of all-cause and CVD death. Men who were able to increase their fitness level as they got older saw even greater reductions in their risk of death.

I say stay physically fit doing regular exercise, including cardio, flexibility, balance and resistance training. Eat well and stay within a healthy body composition range and you will have even more benefits.

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