A US study suggests that young adults who exercise may be less at risk of cardiovascular disease and have higher survival odds decades later than age-mates who are not as active early in life.
Fitness has long been connected to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in older adults. However, the new study provides fresh proof that workout routines started years before heart problems are generally experienced may assist in preventing them from developing in the first place.
Dr. Ravi Shah, lead study author, of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre stated that each additional minute an individual could exercise on a treadmill as a young adult was linked with significantly lower chances of risk of dying or developing cardiovascular disease over 25 years later.
Included in the study were about 4,900 adults between the ages of 18 and 30 who performed treadmill tests in 1985 and 1986, with about 50% of them repeating the exercise evaluation again seven years later. The assessments consisted of as many as nine two-minute levels of gradually increasing difficulty.
Over the next decades, participants were monitored by researchers for incidents related to cardiovascular disease such as strokes or heart attacks, hardening in the coronary arteries, heart muscle weakness and obesity. 50% of the participants were followed for at least 27 years.
The researchers report in JAMA Internal Medicine that 273 people died overall, although only 73 of these deaths were linked to cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, 193 of the participants survived cardiovascular-related incidences such as strokes or heart attacks.
Each extra minute the subjects lasted during the treadmill assessment as young adults was connected to 15% lower odds of death and a 12% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Each one-minute increase in treadmill time was also connected to less strain on the heart muscle; however, exercise test duration wasn’t linked to changes in hardening of the coronary arteries.
Among the subset of subjects who performed the second treadmill test seven years later after the first assessment, every one minute reduction in exercise tolerance was connected to a 20% increase in cardiovascular incidents and 21% greater odds of death.
The increased risks continued after the researchers took participants’ obesity, gender, race, age, and other cardiovascular disease risk factors such as diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure into account.
The need to consider exercise as more than just a tool for weight management was highlighted by the fact that even obesity did not change the outcome, said Dr Venkatesh Murthy of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
He added that being fit and maintaining that fitness over time are crucial to your heart and general health for everyone – particularly starting in early adulthood – and not just for those who are attempting to lose or maintain weight.
Authors concede that there is a possibility that some of the link between heart health and fitness may be explained by improved diet. A peak aerobic capacity test, which is a different measure of cardio-respiratory fitness, might also lead to different results than the treadmill assessments.
Even so, the results offer a substantial confirmation of how vital cardio-respiratory fitness and physical activity are in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Beyond exercise and fitness, patients should also limit sedentary time. Several daily habits contribute to inactivity – emailing co-workers instead of walking down the hall to talk, using the drive through windows at a fast food restaurant or channel surfing – all contribute to reduced fitness and increased weight.