Gradual Improvements in Cardio Fitness Can Help You Live Longer

Have you ever tried to push throughan intense workout, only to find thatyou just couldn’t make it without stopping several timesto rest?

It may certainly feel likedefeat when you’re standing there out of breathwith your hands on your knees, but new research suggests that starting off slow is the way to go. The benefits of graduallyimprovingfrom low levels of cardiovascular fitness to intermediate levels over an extended period of time can add years to your life.

Out of more than 10,000 adults who participated in doctor-prescribedexercise stress tests between 1991 and 2009, the researchersspecifically examined those who underwenttwo exercise stress testswithin at leasta one-year period. After a followup period of aboutnine years, almost 10 percent of men and just over 7 percent of women had passed away.

When the researchers analyzed data fromthe two stress tests taken a year apart, menwho improvedtheir fitness levels by starting at a low-level baseline and moving to intermediate or high levels showed a decreased mortality riskofabout 44 percent. For women who went from low fitness levels to intermediate or high levels, mortality riskdecreased by about 37percent.

Thefindings suggest that while low fitness levels are an important risk factor for early death,initially low fitness levels arenot the problem. Theyonly pose a riskif there is no improvement overone’s lifetime.

Previous research has shown that lack of exercise is a major cause of disease. When people introduce physical activityinto their lives, it essentially prevents or delays disease. This likelyhelps to explainwhy those who improve their fitness levels tend to live longer.

The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to sell your soul to the gym and become super fit to experience the longevity benefits. While “intermediate” fitness levels will vary from person to person, most people should be able to recognize when they’ve reached itafter several weeks or monthsof maintaining a safe but challenging enough exercise regimen.

It can be helpful to record the steps you take, the time in which you complete a workout, the weight you lift, the number of reps you can do and even the number of breaks youtake. As your body adapts to the physical stress of exercise, youshould be able to see improvements in your cardiovascular and muscular strength.

If you’re currently at a low fitness level but want to start exercising to improve your overall health, there are a few important things you need to consider to make sure it’s effective and sustainable:

  • Focus on doing something you actually like. There’s no point in trying to become a runner if you know you already hate running, because chances are you won’t stick with it. Build off of activities you already know you enjoy.
  • Keep it safe.Always put your safety before results. Talk to your doctor first — especially if you have health conditions — set manageable goals and don’t push yourself to the pointwhere you risk doing more damage than good.
  • Get the right training, assistance, and equipment.Speaking of keeping it safe, effective exercisegoes hand in hand with educating yourself. Don’t attempt to do any exerciseson your own without consultinga professional or completingthe necessary research and trainingfirst so that you can maximize your efforts and prevent injury.

Taking it slow and steady isn’t very exciting, but it’s the right way to build serious habits. Once exercisebecomes ingrained into your lifestyle, you can bet that you’ll reap the benefits later on in life.

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67 comments

Peggy B
Peggy B3 months ago

Good to know.

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Lisa M
Lisa M3 months ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M3 months ago

Noted.

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie5 months ago

Thank you so very much!

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie5 months ago

Thank you so very much!

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie5 months ago

Thank you so very much!

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Sheila M
Sheila M5 months ago

Was hoping I'd read specific exercises but still thank you for sharing this piece!

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Renee M
Renee M6 months ago

Well that makes sense...

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Jennifer B
Jennifer B6 months ago

excellent suggestions, thanks!

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Frank R
Past Member 6 months ago

Thanks

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