Not even the experts at the Cleveland Clinic were prepared for the findings of this study. It showed that the risk of death among people who don’t exercise is comparable to or even exceeds those posed by cardiovascular disease, diabetes and smoking. These results stem from a study including 122,007 patients, all of whom had their fitness assessed through treadmill tests between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 2014. Based on their performance, the patients were divided into five fitness groups – elite, high, above average, below average and low. Those in the elite group had fitness levels comparable to those of endurance athletes, the researchers reported. They also found that extreme aerobic fitness was linked to the greatest health benefits, particularly in patients age 70 or older and those who had high blood pressure. Results further showed that the risk of death among elite performers (even those with high blood pressure) was 30 percent lower than it was among the next highest group of performers. All told, the study concluded that extreme fitness provides impressive survival benefits compared to more modest fitness levels and that extremely fit patients lived the longest.