(HealthDay News) — Higher cardiorespiratory fitness in middle age is strongly associated with lower healthcare costs later in life, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Justin M. Bachmann, MD, from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and colleagues identified 19 571 healthy individuals in the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study who underwent cardiorespiratory fitness assessment at a mean age of 49 years and received Medicare coverage from 1999 to 2009 at an average age of 71 years. 

Maximal metabolic equivalents (METs) were calculated from treadmill time and were used to estimate cardiorespiratory fitness.

The researchers found that over 126,388 person-years of follow-up, average annual healthcare costs were significantly lower for participants aged 65 years or older with high midlife fitness, compared with those with low midlife fitness in both men ($6846 vs $11 299; P<.001) and women ($534 vs $9318; P<.001). 

When adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors, average annual healthcare costs in later life were incrementally lower per MET achieved in midlife in men (6.8% decrease in costs per MET achieved; P<001) and women (6.7% decrease in costs per MET achieved; P<.001).

“These findings may have important implications for health policies directed at improving physical fitness,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Bachmann JM, DeFina LF, Franzini L, et al. Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Middle Age and Health Care Costs in Later Life. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;2015;66(17):1876-1885.