A study by researchers at the University of South Carolina has found that fitness may be more important to longevity, than body weight. People who are not at optimal weight but who are active have a lower mortality risk than those of normal weight but low fitness levels. The study was conducted by researchers who tracked 2,600 people ages 60 and older to determine how physical fitness and body fat affected their death rates over a 12 year period. During the study there were 450 deaths. The participants were assessed by a treadmill test, weight, and body mass index. The researchers found that those in the lowest fifth rank of fitness had a death rate of four times higher than participants ranked in the top fifth. The results indicate that being fit provides protection against mortality in men and women 60 and older, whether they're normal weight or overweight..
The timing of this study is significant because obesity is increasing as a serious worldwide health issue associated with both a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition. The researchers feel that the focus on obesity itself often diffuses attention away from exercise and fitness. The study demonstrates that even a modest effort to improve physical activity can provide health benefits.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 50% of adults do not get enough regular exercise. Physical activity , such as brisk walking for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week, can reduce the risk of dying of coronary heart disease, as well as lowering the risk of stroke, colon cancer diabetes, and lowering blood pressure.