#GetFit: Physical Fitness and Mortality

Low levels of physical capability in middle age may signal poorer chances of survival over the next 13 years, according to a cohort study of 1355 men and 1411 women in the United Kingdom.

Nurses assessed grip strength, chair rise speed, and standing balance time of participants at age 53 years.Participants with lower physical capability scores tended to have lower socioeconomic position; less healthy lifestyles; and higher prevalence of self reported cardiovascular disease,diabetes, and severe respiratory symptoms when compared with those with higher scores.

During the follow-up period, there were 177 deaths (88 from cancer, 47 from cardiovascular disease, and 42 from other causes). The fully adjusted hazard ratio of all-cause mortality for participants in the lowest vs highest quintiles of physical capability was 3.68. Those who could not complete any of the 3 tests had death rates more than 12 times higher than those who were able to complete the tests.

Subpar performance on the tests in middle age likely reflects subclinical disease and aging processes rather than manifest diseases, making this population an important one for interventions, said the investigators. What does all of this mean? Time to hit the gym!