According to a new, long-term study of middle-aged men, poor physical fitness may be second only to smoking as a risk factor for premature death. Although there are countless previous studies that have shown that aerobic capacity can influence lifespan, many of these studies only followed people for about 10 to 20 years. By scientific standards that is a lengthy amount of time but still nowhere near most actual lifespans. In a new study, discussed in this New York Times article and published by the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, researchers turned to a large, long-term database of information about Swedish men. To determine what impact fitness may have on lifespan, the scientists grouped the men into three categories: those with low, medium or high aerobic capacity at age 54. They then followed the men for almost 50 years and during that time, the surviving volunteers completed follow-up health testing about once each decade. Although it has been speculated by scientists previously, the findings from this research raise the possibility that by strengthening the body, better fitness may lower the risk of a variety of chronic diseases. Check out the article to learn more about their findings!