It’s no secret that heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, by quite a significant margin. According to the CDC, Heart disease killed 633,842 people in 2015, and cancer came in second at 595,930 deaths. The next was a significant drop — 155,041 deaths due to chronic lower respiratory diseases. That’s quite the difference. The American Heart Association says that they attribute “about 1 of every 3 deaths in the US” to heart disease.

It’s also no secret that a consistent regimen of cardio can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease. A study from Stanford followed several elderly Americans for over 20 years, and they studied both runners and non-runners. The non-runners not only developed disabilities on an average of 16 years earlier than the runners, but the runners were about half as likely to die early deaths when compared to the non-runners. And these aren’t super-athletes running marathons in their spare time, some of them could only manage just over an hour of exercise a week due to old age.

Depression has also been linked to the fatality rates of heart disease. Of course, someone who is depressed might be less inclined to take proper medication and will also probably not be out running or lifting weights as often. However, it also appears as if depression has a direct link to the physical onset of heart disease. Dr. Jesse C. Stewart, Associate Professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis said that, “Thirty years of epidemiological data indicate that depression does predict the development of heart disease.”

Despite the cause, depression is inextricably linked to heart disease. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, “adults with a depressive disorder or symptoms have a 64 percent greater risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD); and depressed CAD patients are 59 percent more likely to have a future adverse cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or cardiac death.”

A new study by The Cooper Institute in Dallas was published on the correlation between cardiorespiratory fitness, depression and heart disease on June 27. The study aimed to determine whether more cardiorespiratory fitness (running, swimming, cycling, etc.) had a significant effect on the number of cardiovascular disease-related deaths, after depression had been diagnosed beyond the age of 65. Their findings were significant:

…higher levels of fitness in midlife were associated with a 16% lower risk of depression. In addition, after a diagnosis of depression, higher levels of fitness were associated with a 56% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality.”

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Which essentially means that,

Men and women who are more physically fit at midlife have a lower risk of depression and cardiovascular mortality after a diagnosis of depression in later life, suggesting that fitness is an important part of a primary preventive strategy for cardiovascular disease and depression across the lifespan.”

From the philosophers of ancient times to scientists of today, it seems that fitness, mental health, and the inner workings of the human body are all inextricably intertwined together. To take care of one, you must take care of them all.

In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection.” — Plato

“No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training … what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” — Socrates

Check out the entire study here.

Images courtesy of Pixabay.