Posted on Dec 06, 2018, 6 p.m.
Scientists suggest that a trip on some stairs may provide a glimpse into your state of health and longevity.
How people perform on exercise testing requiring moving briskly may be able to predict their risk of premature death from heart disease, cancer, and other cause according to a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology which found those with good exercise capacity had less chance of dying of any cause.
Each participant enrolled in the study underwent an exercise echocardiogram, at home you may be able to check your exercise capacity in a similar manner using stairs: check to see if you can climb 4 flights of stairs in under a minute without having to stop, suggests Dr. Jesus Peteiro. If you can, you have good functional capacity, if not it is a sign of needing more physical activity.
Peteiro adds that physical activity can have positive effects on not only the body but on lipids and blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and improving the body’s immune response to tumors.
12,615 participants with known or suspected coronary artery disease underwent treadmill exercise echocardiography, their efforts were measured in metabolic equivalents: 1 MET is equal to the energy required to sit quietly; walking briskly takes 3; jogging take over 6. Good functional capacity as achieving maximum workload was define as 10 METs in this study; and being able to climb 4 flights of stairs in 45 to 55 seconds was estimated to be the equivalent of 10 METs.
The participants were followed up on over the next 5 years, each MET achieved during testing was associated with a 9% lower risk of cardiovascular death, 9% lower risk of cancer death, and 4% lower risk of death from other causes, as noted by the European Society of Cardiology. Among those with poor functional capacity the death rate from heart disease was 3 times higher and cancer deaths were almost doubled compared to those with good capacity.
Dr. Andrew Freeman recommends 30 minutes a day of breathlessness exercise; when patients say they can’t because the are short on breath he responds by saying that it’s great and to use it to advantage; wanting people to warm up and get to that point of being breathless but but not passing out, just challenged and to stay there for as long as possible, taking breaks as needed and then resuming.
Guidelines in America suggests adults should get at least a minimum of 2.5-5 hours a week of moderate intensity exercise, or 1.25-2.5 hours of intense activity each week.
Stairs offer clues to the individuals heart health, doctors ask patients whether they can go up stairs without symptoms before clearing them for major surgery; other tests that have been found to predict longevity include being able to get back up without support after sitting on the floor.
Peteiro suggests walking, running, biking, and swimming to boost exercise capacity; while Freeman just wants people to pick an activity they enjoy that will make them breathless saying in some ways exercise can be like a medicine with dose responses where typically more exercise is better.
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