Lack of physical activity is a major public health concern. Poor fitness and low cardiorespiratory levels have been connected to heart disease and hypertension. Now a new study finds low cardiorespiratory fitness is also a risk factor for stroke.
Cardiorespiratory fitness level is measured by the maximum oxygen consumption during physical activity. Investigators from the Research Institute of Public Health and the Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine in Finland conducted the current study focusing on fitness level and the risk of stroke in men.
The research included more than 2,000 men who had not suffered a stroke as of the start of the study. The participants had their fitness level determined by having their maximum oxygen level measured during exercise. The men were followed for 11 years. During this time, 110 of the men suffered a stroke.
Researchers report the unfit men were more likely to suffer a stroke than the fit men. They also found after adjusting for other risk factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diabetes, cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels the association between cardio fitness level and stroke still existed. In fact, researchers say low cardiorespiratory fitness was as comparable a risk factor for stroke as high blood pressure, obesity and smoking.
Study authors conclude a low cardiorespiratory fitness level puts a person at increased risk for a stroke. In fact, since the study found a low fitness level to be one of strongest predictors of a person suffering a stroke, researchers feel it should be used in the evaluation of a person's risk for a future stroke.