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Fitness Level Predicts Mortality Risk in Seniors

Physical activity helps overweight and normal-weight alike

TUESDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Regardless of weight, cardiorespiratory fitness is a predictor of mortality in older adults, according to the results of a study published in the Dec. 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Xuemei Sui, M.D., of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., and colleagues conducted a study of 2,603 adults aged 60 and older, of whom 19.8 percent were women, who were followed for 12 years. At baseline, the participants completed a maximal exercise test; body mass index, percent body fat and waist circumference were measured to assess adiposity.

During follow-up, there were 450 deaths. The mortality rate per 1,000 person-years varied according to weight status. It was 13.3 for those with normal waist circumference and 18.2 for those with high waist circumference, and was 13.7 and 14.6 for those with normal and high body fat percentage, respectively. As for fitness, the fittest 20 percent had the lowest mortality rate: 8.1 per 1,000 person-years versus 32.6 for the least fit fifth.

"Fit individuals had greater longevity than unfit individuals, regardless of their body composition or fat distribution," the authors write. "Our data provide further evidence regarding the complex long-term relationship among fitness, body size and survival."

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