There is mounting evidence that fitness levels in middle-aged people are associated with a reduced risk of developing chronic lung disease (COPD).
A number of previous studies have suggested that a high level of physical activity and/or leisurely exercise reduced risks of COPD, while physical inactivity increased its progression, a finding backed up by a new study published in the Thorax journal.
The researchers recorded the respiratory health of 4,730 healthy middle-aged men in the Copenhagen Male Study between 1970 and 1971. Participants were monitored for up to 46 years until January 2016.
The average age of participants was 49 years. Those with a previous diagnosis of asthma or COPD, or symptoms of chronic bronchitis, were excluded from the study.
Participants' medical history was recorded as well as lifestyle information, including alochol intake, smoking, activity levels, education and ocupation.
Height, weight and resting blood pressure were measured, as well as cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF). The results found that the estimated risk of COPD diagnosis was 21 per cent lower in men with normal CRF and 31 per cent lower in men with high CRF. Similarly, compared with low CRF, the estimated risk of death from COPD was 35 per cent lower in men with normal CRF and 62 per cent lower in men with high CRF.