The Impact of Physical Fitness on Overall Health and Longevity

In a new study, researchers have once again proven that it is worth not lying down on the couch right away after a long day at work, especially when you are older. According to the results, high fitness was the most powerful predictor of longevity in people over 70. It shows once again how important is physical fitness if you want to live a long life and stay healthy into old age.

Elder couple doing yoga / Photo:

Although factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking are also closely linked to the likelihood of heart disease, according to the research, nothing matters more than fitness level.

The reason is that: The other factors are so common in older people that the total number of risk factors in predicting future health becomes almost meaningless, the researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine said in a statement: “We found that fitness is an extremely good predictor of mortality in the older age group. It doesn’t matter whether people are otherwise healthy or have cardiovascular risk factors,” said study lead author Seamus P. Whelton.

Being in good physical shape means you are more likely to live longer than someone who is less fit.

Study fills knowledge gap.

According to Whelton, most of the previously published studies on cardiovascular risk factors have focused on middle-aged people, thus creating a knowledge gap regarding the importance of these risk factors in older people.

So, he and his team analysed medical records from more than 6,500 people over the age of 70 who underwent stress testing at a Henry Ford Health System medical center between 1991 and 2009.

They evaluated fitness based on each patient’s performance during the exercise test. At that time, all participants had to train as hard as possible on the treadmill.

Elder woman training / Photo: pressfoto

The researchers divided patients into three groups that reflect their fitness based on the number of METs (metabolic equivalents that indicate exertion): fittest (10 or more METs), moderately fit (six to 9.9 METs), and least fit (six or fewer METs).

The researchers also grouped the patients on a scale of zero to three based on their other risk of cardiovascular disease.

Fitness is a more important indicator than other risk factors.

On average, the participants were 75 years old when they underwent the physical stress test. The researchers followed the patients for around ten years. During this time, 39 percent of the patients died.

The scientists found that higher fitness was associated with significantly higher survival rates. The fittest subjects were more than twice as likely to be alive 10 years later than the least fit subjects.

In contrast, a patient’s total number of cardiovascular risk factors was not associated with risk of death: patients with zero risk factors had essentially the same odds of dying as patients with three or more risk factors.

Important Evidences: Examples of chronic diseases that can be prevented with physical fitness:

Physical fitness has been shown to play an important role in preventing many chronic diseases. Chronic diseases are conditions that typically develop slowly and last a long time, often for the rest of a person’s life. These types of diseases can significantly impact a person’s health and quality of life, and can also lead to premature death.

Here are some examples of chronic diseases that can be prevented or managed through regular physical activity and fitness:

1- Cardiovascular disease: Cardiovascular disease refers to conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke. Regular physical activity can help to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by improving heart health, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and decreasing the risk of blood clots.

2- Type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body is unable to produce or use insulin properly. Regular physical activity can help to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, as well as promoting weight loss.

3- Obesity: Obesity is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Regular physical activity can help to prevent and manage obesity by burning calories, building muscle, and reducing visceral fat.

Obesity is a great risk in every stage of life / Photo: Prostooleh

4- Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle, increasing the risk of fractures. Regular weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging, or resistance training, can help to improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

5- Depression and anxiety: Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety can also be prevented or managed through regular physical activity. Exercise has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost self-esteem.

By incorporating regular physical activity and fitness into your lifestyle, you can help to prevent and manage many chronic diseases, leading to a longer and healthier life.


The impact of physical fitness on overall health and longevity is significant. Engaging in regular physical activity has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, increase muscular strength and endurance, improve bone density, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and improve mental health and cognitive function.

Regular exercise can also help to maintain a healthy body weight and reduce the risk of obesity, which is associated with numerous health problems. In addition, physical activity can improve sleep quality, reduce stress levels, and enhance overall quality of life.

Studies have consistently shown that individuals who engage in regular physical activity tend to live longer and enjoy a better quality of life as they age. Therefore, it’s important to prioritize physical activity as a key component of a healthy lifestyle to achieve better health outcomes and increase longevity.

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