Go Farther, Go Faster…Live Longer

There are many times when I can choose between doing something active, and doing something else. And man, there’s alot of something elses. Yesterday morning, for example: I had writing deadlines, clinic charting, endless housework, and two school-aged kids who still think I’m cool and want to hang out. Plus, Hubby packing for an overnight trip to Chicago with the team, so I knew I’d be solo soon.

But somehow, that little part of my brain that knows better nudged me to my sneakers and pushed me out the door. I know I need exercise for my brain to work right and my mood to be stable. I know I need exercise because I’m officially closer to 50 than 40 and it shows. I know I need exercise because…the research says so.

Another massive research study shows that exercising is really, really good for you. This time,  researchers at the Cleveland Clinic looked at data from over 120,000 participants who had completed exercise treadmill stress testing between 1991 and 2014 and were followed for years afterwards– that’s ALOT of people and data, folks– and found that the least fit were the most likely to die, by ALOT.

Basically, they divided people up into five levels: low (<25th percentile), below average (25th-49th percentile), above average (50th-74th percentile), high (75th-97.6th percentile), and elite (≥97.7th percentile). They found that even after adjusting for every imaginable difference, each level of fitness was associated with strikingly significant benefits. The kicker was that the highest fitness level (that >97.7th percentile group) was associated with an 80% lower risk of death when compared to the lowest fitness levels.

As a matter of fact, the risk of death associated with the lowest levels of fitness was similar to that seen with smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.

Each level of fitness was better than the last: The more fit people were, the less likely they were to die in followup, period.

The authors conclude: “Cardiorespiratory fitness is a modifiable indicator of long-term mortality, and health care professionals should encourage patients to achieve and maintain high levels of fitness.”

The study was picked up by all the major news outlets, including Time and CNN, if you’d like to read more about it.

This makes me feel good about taking time I could be doing any number of other things to run farther and faster and push myself to where I have to stop and stretch and breathe and take in the view of the sky over the river.

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