Fit or Fat: The Benefits of Exercise

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 // Uncategorized

Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure because our goals are higher than we can easily achieve.  We may not be able to lose weight, but it is still worth making the effort if we exercise. Here is yet another study showing the benefits of exercise.  Even if exercise results in no weight loss, those who exercise have a lower mortality at the same Body Mass Index that those who do not.

  • Original Articles
    • Epidemiology and Prevention

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

  1. Duck-chul Lee, PhD;
  2. Xuemei Sui, MD, MPH;
  3. Enrique G. Artero, PhD;
  4. I-Min Lee, MBBS, MPH, ScD;
  5. Timothy S. Church, MD, PhD;
  6. Paul A. McAuley, PhD;
  7. Fatima C. Stanford, MD, MPH;
  8. Harold W. Kohl III, PhD, MSPH;
  9. Steven N. Blair, PED

+ Author Affiliations

  1. From the Departments of Exercise Science (D.C.L., X.S., E.G.A., S.N.B.) and Epidemiology/Biostatistics (S.N.B.), Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina; Department of Medical Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Granada, Spain (E.G.A.): Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts (I.M.L.); Department of Preventive Medicine Research, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisianna (T.S.C.); Department of Human Performance and Sport Sciences, Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina (P.A.M.); Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, and Palmetto Health Richland Hospital, Columbia, South Carolina (F.C.S.); Division of Epidemiology and Disease Control, University of Texas Health Science Center–Houston, School of Public Health, Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living and Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas (H.W.K.).
  1. Correspondence to Duck-chul Lee, PhD, 921 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29208. E-mail [email protected]


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.

Remember during the holiday season that whatever you do helps to maintain your fitness.  Maybe you can’t do what you normally do, but any exercise that you do helps.  Just do it.


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