Although the detrimental effects of low aerobic fitness have been well documented, this research has largely been performed in older populations.

Few studies have analysed the direct link between aerobic fitness and health in younger populations.

The study from Umea University in Sweden followed 1,317,713 men for a median average of 29 years to examine the association between aerobic fitness and death later in life, as well as how obesity affected these results.

The subjects' aerobic fitness was tested by asking them to cycle until they had to stop due to fatigue.

Men in the highest fifth of aerobic fitness had a 48 percent lower risk of death from any cause compared with those in the lowest fifth.

Stronger associations were observed for deaths related to suicide and abuse of alcohol and narcotics.

The researchers also found a strong association between low aerobic fitness and deaths related to trauma.

However, in this study the beneficial effect of high aerobic fitness was actually reduced with increased obesity, and in those with extreme obesity there was no significant effect at all, the researchers said.

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

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