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Effects of Cardiorespiratory Fitness on Healthcare Utilization


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2004 - Volume 36 - Issue 12 - p 2088-2092
doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000147581.47326.58
Basic Sciences: Epidemiology

Background: Prospective study examining the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness level and incidence of medical treatments during a 1-yr period before each of two examinations. A subset was also evaluated to assess whether improvement in fitness affected incidence of treatments.

Methods and Results: Part I: Six thousand six hundred seventy-nine healthy male subjects underwent medical examinations on two occasions, including a maximal exercise test. Division of subjects by fitness into quartiles (Q1 = low fitness through Q4 = high fitness) revealed an inverse relationship between fitness and outcome measures. Men in the low-fitness group had more office visits and overnight hospital stays than men in the high-fitness group (3.5% (Q1) vs 1.6% (Q4) men had 10+ office visits, and 10% (Q1) vs 5.0% (Q4) men had overnight hospital stays, P < 0.0001). These differences held after adjustment for potential confounding variables (age, follow-up yr, blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking). Part II: Subjects in this subset (N = 2974) were evaluated to compare overnight hospital stays between low-fit men who remained low fit at the second examination, and low-fit men who became fit by the second examination. This cohort was divided into fitness tertiles (T1 = low fitness through T3 = high fitness). Those who improved their fitness by the time of the second examination had a decreased number of overnight hospital stays, compared with those who remained unfit at the time of the second examination (10.2% (T1 at second visit) vs 5.9% (T3 at second visit) had overnight hospital stays, P < 0.03).

Conclusions: Men who maintain or become fit are less likely to have physician visits or overnight hospital stays, compared with men who are unfit.

1Cooper Clinic, Dallas, TX; and 2The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, Dallas, TX

Address for correspondence: Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., Cooper Clinic, 12200 Preston Rd., Dallas, TX 75230; E-mail:

Submitted for publication September 2001.

Accepted for publication October 2003.

©2004The American College of Sports Medicine