SOURCE: Ehrman JK, Brawner CA, Al-Mallah MH, et al. Am J Med 2017;130:1177-1183.

In both men and women in the United States, levels of cardiorespiratory fitness are inversely related to mortality. An encouraging epidemiologic study of women (the Nurses’ Health Study, n = 72,488) found that even brisk walking for about 30 minutes daily was associated with near maximal cardiovascular (CV) health benefits. Additionally, even sedentary women who became physically active later in life enjoyed CV risk reduction.

But does race make a difference? African-Americans demonstrate higher CV event rates and mortality than Caucasians, which has been linked to disparities in hypertension, access to care, and other causes. However, for similar levels of fitness, are outcomes different between ethnicities? Investigators performed a retrospective analysis of data from a nine-year follow-up of patients (n = 13,345) who had undergone exercise treadmill testing at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit on at least two occasions.

Approximately 75% of the population was Caucasian and 25% African-American. An analysis of fitness level in relation to mortality showed no meaningful difference between groups: For both ethnicities, each one metabolic equivalent increment of cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with a 13-16% reduction in mortality.