Teenage fitness lowers chance of heart attack later
Teenage boys who are more physically active reduce their risk of having a heart attack later in life, according to new research published in the European Heart Journal.
Swedish researchers analyzed data from 743,498 men who were part of the Swedish armed forces between 1969 and 1984. All underwent medical examinations when they were 18 years old, which measured blood pressure, weight, height, muscle strength and aerobic fitness.
For the aerobic part of the exam, the men performed a cycle test. The cycling resistance was increased by 25 watts a minute until the person was too exhausted to continue. Their maximum wattage was used for the study. Researchers divided the participants’ results into five groups, ranging from lowest aerobic fitness level to highest. All the men were followed for about 34 years or until death, heart attack or January 1, 2011.
Results showed that men in the lowest aerobic fitness group were 2.1 times more likely to suffer a heart attack later in life compared with men in the highest aerobic fitness group. In addition, every 15 percent increase in aerobic fitness showed the men were 18 percent less likely to have a heart attack. Also, men who did regular cardiovascular training in late adolescence reduced their risk of heart attack later in life by 35 percent.
They also found that Body Mass Index played a role in heart attack risk, as even the fittest obese men were more at risk for heart attacks than men who were lean but mostly unfit.
The researchers noted that it may be more important not to be overweight or obese than to be fit, but it’s best to be fit and a normal weight.