Low physical capacity 'second only to smoking in terms of death risk'

3 August 2016

A long-term study has highlighted low physical capacity as second only to smoking in terms of the effect it has on elevating people's risk of death.

Carried out by the University of Gothenburg, the research followed 792 middle-aged men for 45 years to investigate risk factors for cardiovascular disease and mortality.

One of the metrics on which participants were assessed was maximal oxygen uptake, a measure also known as VO2 max. This is a key indicator of aerobic capacity, with higher figures indicating the person is more physically fit.

The lowest-performing one-third of patients in the group were shown to be 21 percent more likely to die than those in the middle group, with another 21 percent gap separating the middle and top tertiles.

Since the risk associated with low aerobic capacity was evident across more than four decades, it can be concluded that being physically active can have a big impact over a lifetime.

Dr Per Ladenvall, a researcher in the department of molecular and clinical medicine of the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, said: "We have come a long way in reducing smoking. The next major challenge is to keep us physically active and also to reduce physical inactivity, such as prolonged sitting."

Posted by Jeanette Royston

 


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