Health Sachet No 315:

Everyone knows lack of fitness is bad for well-being. But just how bad?

A new Swedish study reports that poor physical fitness in middle age is a major predictor of early death, second only to smoking.

The study involved a massive 45 years of followup, strengthening its value.

Smoking was the risk factor most strongly associated with mortality.

The deadly effect of low aerobic capacity (fitness) came second, ahead of even high cholesterol and high BP.

The scientists grouped 54-year old men into 3 levels of fitness: low, medium, high. Each increase in fitness category, from low to medium, and from medium to high, meant 21% less risk of death, over the next 45 years.

Surprisingly, fitness in early 50s mattered more than four decades down the line.

In people with low fitness, even a small increase in activity levels can have beneficial effect.

Increase your fitness level, especially as you approach middle-age.