The association of fitness with reduced cardiometabolic risk among smokers

Am J Prev Med. 2015 May;48(5):561-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.12.004.


Introduction: Despite the health benefits associated with smoking cessation, continued smoking and relapse following cessation are common. Physical activity is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in general, though less is known about how cardiorespiratory fitness may influence cardiometabolic risk among smokers. Strategies are needed to protect against the health consequences of smoking among those unwilling or unable to quit smoking. The purpose of this study is to determine whether greater cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with reduced metabolic risk among smokers.

Methods: The prospective influence of estimated cardiorespiratory fitness (i.e., maximal METs) on the development of metabolic syndrome and its components were examined among adult smokers (N=1,249) who completed at least two preventive medical visits at the Cooper Clinic (Dallas TX) between 1979 and 2011. Statistical analyses were completed in 2013 and 2014.

Results: The rate and risk for metabolic syndrome, as well as abnormal fasting glucose and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels declined linearly with increases in cardiorespiratory fitness (all p<0.05). Smokers in the moderate and high fitness categories had significantly reduced risk of developing metabolic syndrome and elevated fasting glucose relative to smokers in the lowest fitness category. In addition, smokers in the high fitness category were less likely to develop abnormal high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.

Conclusions: Moderate to high cardiorespiratory fitness among smokers is associated with a reduced likelihood of developing certain cardiovascular disease risk factors and metabolic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Smoking / metabolism*