Effects of cardiorespiratory fitness on healthcare utilization

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Dec;36(12):2088-92. doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000147581.47326.58.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Exercise Test
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Prospective Studies