It’s pretty logical that being fit is more conducive to a long life than not being fit.
However, just how much this matters to your health when you think of it that way is a bit too “pie in the sky.” It’s important to quantify a question like this in order to really connect with why it matters so much.
Researchers out of Stanford found that men in their study who increased their average fitness level (measured in METs) by just a single unit were able to reduce their risk of death over the next 6 years from any cause by 12%, no matter what level they started at. To give you an idea of what this means, just sitting quietly takes one MET. Walking at a moderate speed takes about 3.5 METs. The men in the study were able to achieve 7-10 METs at baseline.
What is eye opening is that’s any cause of death, mind you, like heart disease, cancer, stroke, and so on. And similar results have been found for women.
Not impressed? Well, every extra MET added to your baseline is another 12%. If you go from a 4 to a 9, or a 9 to a 14, you’ve lowered your risk by 60%. Now that’s quite a bit!
A study conducted in 1989 by the Institute for Aerobics Research and the Cooper Clinic looked at more than 13,000 people over the course of 8 years to see how fitness levels related to overall death rates. They had some pretty interesting results:
And that’s really the main point: You’ll be better off the fitter you get.
It’s important to note, though, that this covers not just a prolonged life, but a better quality of life as well. A higher level of fitness means you’ll be more energetic, go about your day more easily and reduce your risk of chronic illnesses.
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