The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


The Cooper Institute Finds High Midlife Fitness and Cardiovascular Health Associated with Lower Healthcare Costs

DALLAS (October, 2015) – New research from The Cooper Institute, and partners including Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, shows middle-aged adults who are healthy and fit have reduced healthcare spending later in life. Findings linking ideal cardiovascular health, as defined by the American Heart Association (AHA), and long-term healthcare costs were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, while the direct relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness in middle age and healthcare cost later in life were published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Both studies utilized health data from the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study (CCLS).
Findings released today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology note that high-fit participants showed 40% lower average annual healthcare costs compared to low-fit participants based on Medicare charges after age 65. This savings is significant, potentially equaling an average of $5,242 less for men’s annual healthcare costs and an average of $3,964 less for women’s annual costs. This study was led by Dr. Justin Bachmann, Instructor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Drs. Laura DeFina and Benjamin Willis of the Cooper Institute served as co-authors.
“The Cooper Institute has made significant contributions to public health over the past 45 years, but not until now have we been able to show a direct correlation between high fitness levels and lower healthcare costs,” said Laura DeFina, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Cooper Institute. “These findings will help individuals and employers make better informed decisions that have the potential to reduce the economic burden of physical inactivity while improving the health of Americans.”
In addition to the relationship between cardiovascular fitness and healthcare costs, a relationship between ideal cardiovascular health and a reduction in long-term healthcare costs has also been found. The AHA defines ideal cardiovascular health based on seven factors associated with reduced risk: Physical activity, blood pressure, blood glucose, total cholesterol, diet, weight and smoking. 
The study published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that having more ideal cardiovascular health components (as defined by the AHA) is correlated with lower overall healthcare costs later in life. In fact, research using health data from the CCLS found healthy middle-aged adults spend almost 75% less in annual healthcare costs related to heart disease and nearly 25% less in all other healthcare costs in later life. This compelling evidence proves that healthier habits do, in fact, not only have a dramatic impact on one’s overall health but also healthcare spending. 
“We’ve determined that healthy 40-to-60-year-old adults not only have a reduced chance of getting sick, but also end up saving quite a bit of money,” said Benjamin Willis, MD, MPH, Director of Epidemiology at The Cooper Institute and lead author of the study available online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. “These findings simply underscore that when we invest in our health during our most active years, the potential rewards in terms of quality of life and financial savings could be substantial.”
As supported by the AHA, The Cooper Institute recommends adults maintain normal blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and weight; get active; eat a heart-healthy diet; and quit smoking to enhance overall health. Even the smallest improvements can make a big difference. 
The Cooper Institute is dedicated to promoting life-long health and wellness worldwide through research and education. Founded by Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, The Cooper Institute translates the latest scientific findings into proactive solutions that improve population health. Key areas of focus are research, adult education, and youth programs. Through these initiatives, The Cooper Institute helps people lead better, longer lives now and Well. Into the Future. To learn more, visit  
Developed in 1970, the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study is an ongoing, open research study used to improve public health. Owned and operated by The Cooper Institute, it contains nearly 300,000 patient records and is one of the world’s most extensive studies relating fitness to overall wellbeing. The study allows The Cooper Institute to uncover predictors of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome, and depression. To learn more, visit