Study Shows That Not Exercising Is Worse Than Smoking, Diabetes, And Heart Disease - Save Our Bones

A recent study published in the journal Cardiology has found that poor cardiovascular and respiratory fitness is deadlier than smoking, diabetes, and heart disease.

The massive study sheds new light on the importance of exercise, and aerobic exercise in particular, for living a long and healthy life.

Today we'll look at the details of the study so you can apply its findings to your bone-healthy lifestyle.

Cardiorespiratory Fitness And Longevity

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation set out to determine the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and long-term mortality. The cardiorespiratory system is made up of both the heart and lungs.

The study looked at data from 122,007 participants between 1991 and 2014. The scientists used a treadmill test to measure the participants' cardiorespiratory fitness, and gathered information about participants' medical history and health factors like smoking.1

Each participant took a treadmill test that measured cardiorespiratory fitness. The researchers then sorted the participants into performance groups: low (scored in below the 25th percentile), below average (scored in the 25th-49th percentile), above average (50th-74th percentile), high (75th-97.6th percentile), and elite (at or above the 97.7th percentile).

The study, which spanned 23 years, then tracked the deaths of participants, so that researchers could draw associations between participants' fitness levels and their mortality risk.


Researchers compared cardiorespiratory fitness measurements to the mortality outcomes of 122,007 participants for 23 years.

Low Fitness Linked To Early Death

The researchers found that there was a clear inverse relationship between fitness level and risk of death. The higher a participants' cardiorespiratory fitness, the lower the risk of death. Conversely, participants who had the poorest fitness levels were the most likely to die early.1

This fitness level measurement was a more consistent indicator of early death than other well-known risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, and heart disease.1

Remarkably, the researchers found that there was no upper limit to this association. Some previous research had suggested that people who engage in extreme high-intensity exercise might be putting themselves at greater risk than those who followed a frequent but less intense regimen. However, this study found that participants with the highest fitness levels had the lowest chance of death.1

The study authors concluded the following:

“Cardiorespiratory fitness is inversely associated with long-term mortality with no observed upper limit of benefit. Extremely high aerobic fitness was associated with the greatest survival and was associated with benefits in older patients and those with hypertension. Cardiorespiratory fitness is a modifiable indicator of long-term mortality, and health care professionals should encourage patients to achieve and maintain high levels of fitness.”1


The study found that cardiorespiratory fitness had an inverse relationship with long-term mortality. Greater fitness correlated to a longer life. Participants with the lowest fitness levels were more likely to die early.

Aerobic Fitness And Bone Health

When it comes to building stronger bones, weight-bearing exercise is the gold standard. And many forms of aerobic exercise– like walking, running, or an aerobics class– meet that standard.

The pressure that these activities apply on your bones stimulates the bone remodeling process– resulting in the growth of new bone.

This means that you can pursue the life-extending effects of high cardiorespiratory fitness at the same time as you build stronger bones. In fact, Savers will recognize this pairing as essential. Dependably strong bones give you the independence and confidence both to stay fit and to make the most of the long life that fitness provides you.


High levels of cardiorespiratory fitness and strong bones are a natural pairing. Weight-bearing aerobic exercises work to build both, such as walking, running, and aerobics.

What This Means To You

This study is great news for Savers. Many of the bone-building physical activities that are part of your exercise routine are already serving to increase your cardiorespiratory fitness.

Take a look at your workout routine. Does it include any cardio exercises that elevate your heart rate? If your workout isn't challenging enough, it might be time to increase its difficulty level.

We created our online video workout platform SaveTrainer so you can customize and adapt your workouts to your fitness level. SaveTrainer offers a wide variety of beginner, intermediate, and advanced level classes to meet your changing ability level and needs.

Your fitness has a direct bearing on your health and longevity as well as the strength and dependability of your bones. Keep both in good shape by building an exercise routine that is both challenging and enjoyable.



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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Pearl

    Thanks so much for such interesting and valuable information, Vivian!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re very welcome, Pearl!

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