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It?s not high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoking. No, the most important element in death risk is physical fitness. According to a report published in the March 14, 2002, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, exercise capacity is the best predictor of death risk among men with and without cardiovascular disease. Among the 6,200 men who participated in the study, those with the lowest exercise capacity were four times more likely to die during the 6-year study period than those in the fittest group. According to Dr. Jonathan Myers and his colleagues at Stanford University and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in California, overall, fitness mattered more in death risk than high blood pressure, smoking, and obesity. Current federal health guidelines call for healthy adults to engage in some moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day on most (and preferably all) days of the week.