The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) began a study in 1991 to dig into an age-old wonder: How much does exercise dictate life expectancy?
This week, after twenty-seven years of waiting, we can access the results.
You might be wondering, “Why in the world did a high-profile research organization spend twenty-seven years looking at one question that seems obvious to the rest of us?” It may be intuitive that the more we exercise, the stronger our hearts will be, and the longer we will live.
But this twenty-seven-year-long, rock-solid study takes it a step further: Not even fatty foods or smoking cigarettes can top the life-shortening effects of – to put it bluntly – sitting on your derrière all day.
JAMA’s main takeaways:
- The risk of being out of shape is greater than or equal to that of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and smoking.
- Extremely high aerobic fitness is associated with the greatest survival rates.
- Researchers found no limit to the benefit of aerobic exercise.
- A single fitness test showed these results just as strongly.
To obtain these results, JAMA researchers monitored 122,007 patients who underwent periodic treadmill testing. Results are based on moderate to vigorous exercise.
Long-term, physical inactivity is more lethal than A.) overeating, B.) smoking cigarettes, and more, according to the report.
Being out of shape (in this case, performing poorly on a treadmill test) has a worse diagnosis, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a smoker.
While it is always important to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle, cardiorespiratory health is ultimately the key to adding years to our lives. If you’re still not convinced about the importance of this study, let’s talk about its relevance today.
Timing Is Key
Today, the average American office worker sits for 9-12 hours each day, depending on commute time and job industry. Think about the amount of time you spend on the subway, at your desk, sitting in traffic.
How much time at the gym did you spend actually working out?
How much are we all relying on technology to handle what might otherwise amount to physical activity? (Hello Amazon, Postmates, and every dating app ever!)
The argument here is not that JAMA’s findings are particularly surprising – but rather, they are particularly timely.
What We Can Do
Researchers conclude by asking doctors to step it up and prescribe exercise as a preventative measure to address this health risk.
“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 report writes.
Talk to your doctor about getting started on an exercise plan. If you’re already exercising regularly, keep it up! If you are a busy bee, and time is of the essence, consider your exercise opportunities around your workday: bike to work or talk a walk during lunch.
We’re meant to walk, run, exercise. Bottom line: it’s all about moving.
So get up and go!
Read more: The Three Best Dynamic Stretches For Runners