Fitness in young adulthood protects heart health in middle age

ch included up to nine, two-minute stages of progressive difficulty. Women who completed less than six minutes and men who completed less than 10 minutes of exercise were classified as having "low fitness." Women who were classified as "moderately fit" could exercise six to nine minutes; moderately fit men could exercise 10 to 12 minutes. Those who completed more exercise were classified as "highly fit."

Results of the study showed that persons with low or moderate fitness had twice the risk for high blood pressure, diabetes and metabolic syndrome as those who were highly fit. Risk increased directly as fitness level dropped. Weight gain was inversely related to fitness over the course of the study. Those who were obese tended to be less fit: Of those who were obese, 68 percent had low fitness, while among those who were not obese, 51 percent were highly fit.

Interestingly, improving fitness had no significant effect on reducing high blood pressure or low-density lipoprotein, the so-called "bad" cholesterol.

"This may be because low-density lipoprotein levels are affected largely by genetics and diet, and less by fitness. The key point is that the development of risk factors for heart disease and stroke isn't just the natural result of aging," Carnethon said.


Contact: Elizabeth Crown
Northwestern University

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