University Of Houston LogoAccording to a latest study, fitness levels seem to decline with age and begins to drop particularly sharply after the age of 45. However, the study claimed that maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI), not smoking and being physically active are associated with higher fitness levels all through adult life.

For the purpose of the study, Andrew Jackson along with his colleagues examined nearly 3,429 women and approximately 16,889 men of ages 20 to 96 who participated in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study (ACLS) between the year 1974 and 2006. During the study, participants were noted to have completed between 2 and 33 health examinations that included counseling about diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors together with a treadmill exercise in order to evaluate fitness.

“The U.S. population is aging and is becoming more obese and sedentary. It is well documented that the cardiorespiratory fitness of men and women declines with age and that body composition and habitual physical activity are related to cardiorespiratory fitness. Low fitness levels increase the risk of diseases and interfere with older adults’ ability to function independently,” says lead author of the study, Andrew S. Jackson, P.E.D., of the University of Houston.

The findings of the study revealed that fitness levels seemed to have declined continuously over time. However, the decrease appears to have not been linear or steady where cardiorespiratory fitness declined more quickly after age 45. Moreover, the decline for men was believed to have been greater in contrast to that for women. The findings also showed that being active, keeping a normal BMI and not smoking may perhaps be associated with significantly higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness during the adult life span studied.

Furthermore, being inactive and having a high BMI were noted to be associated with a lower age. Also, due to this an individual could possibly be anticipated to reach threshold cardiorespiratory fitness levels associated with substantially higher health risks.

“These data indicate the need for physicians to recommend to their patients the necessity to maintain their weight, engage in regular aerobic exercise and abstain from smoking,” concludes Jackson.

Given the increased rates of obesity and low levels of physical activity previously observed in the general population, the findings also suggest that more men and women may perhaps achieve the fitness level designated by the Social Security Administration as representing disability at a younger age.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal, Internal Medicine.