Research: High levels of fitness reduces mortality

Research DefinitionResearch Definition

Cardiovascular fitness reduces all-cause mortality.


Many patients ask me if they should add exercise to their daily regime.  Very few patients should be told not to exercise so for most of you the answer is near 100% yes.  It widely accepted that cardiovascular fitness has an inverse relationship with mortality.   We have all heard a story about a young guy or gal that drops dead during a run, and they were believed to be fit as a fiddle.  We know that sitting or a lack of exercise incall-cause cause mortality.  Prior studies have shown that exercise or physical activity lower mortality but what is the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and long-term mortality?  Is there any evidence that exercise lowers mortality?   

A recent study looked at this very question.  The study was published on 10 October 2018  in Cardiology[1].  In this study, over 120,000 patients undergoing exercise treadmill testing were reviewed for fitness and all-cause mortality.   Patients were stratified into three groups based on the level of exercise they were able to achieve or metabolic equivalents (METS).   During follow-up, researchers noted an inverse relationship between the level of cardiovascular fitness and all-cause mortality across all performance levels.  This effect increased even over the age of 70 years.  The effect increase even higher in the elite fitness levels.  

The bottom line: Cardiorespiratory fitness reduces mortality risk.  It is like the single best modifiable indicator of long-term mortality.  I recommend you talk to your healthcare professional about adding exercise to your daily schedule.    Maintaining a high level of fitness can help you stay thin, fit, and lower your mortality.  


  1. [1]
    K. Mandsager, S. Harb, P. Cremer, D. Phelan, S. E. Nissen, and W. Jaber, “Association of Cardiorespiratory Fitness With Long-term Mortality Among Adults Undergoing Exercise Treadmill Testing,” J, vol. 1, no. 6, p. e183605, Oct. 2018 [Online]. Available: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.3605″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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