Physical activity – the new health ‘wonder drug’
A recent report has leading doctors calling for our western culture pandemic of ‘physical inactivity’ to be given equal priority to smoking by health professionals when working with their clients. This backs up data from a 2009 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine –
Graph 1 – shows the risk of cardiovascular disease was reduced at all levels of ‘fatness’ by increased cardiovascular fitness
Risk of cardiovascular disease mortality by cardio-respiratory fitness and body mass index categories, 2316 men with type 2 diabetes at baseline, 179 deaths. Risk ratios are adjusted for age and examination year. Black bars = low cardio-respiratory fitness, white bars = moderate cardio-respiratory fitness (in the obese category, the white bar includes both moderate and high cardio-respiratory fitness, and the grey bar = high cardio-respiratory fitness). (Adapted from Church TS et al. Arch Int. Med 2005;165:2114–20).
Graph 2 – shows that low cardiovascular fitness is the greatest risk factor for ‘all cause’ death
Attributable fractions (%) for all-cause deaths in 40 842 (3333 deaths) men and 12 943 (491 deaths) women in the Aerobics Centre Longitudinal Study. The attributable fractions are adjusted for age and each other item in the figure. *Cardio-respiratory fitness determined by a maximal exercise test on a treadmill.
The ‘take home’ from this report and graphs are the importance of being physically active to maintain/improve our cardiovascular fitness as a key predictor of our long term health.