As if we needed it!!
A recent New England Journal of Medicine report determined the relationship between degree of fitness and survival over time. It seems that if we can exercise at least 85% of what we should be able to do at our age, we have a lower risk of dying than if we can exercise less than that. In other words, if we’re fit, we’re less likely to die. They even tested this idea on women with heart symptoms, and it held. Women who could exercise to at least 85% of average capacity lived longer than less-fit women.
But another interesting tidbit was that our exercise capacity is lower than men’s and it decreases faster with age than does men.
Drat. One more thing I have to worry about! Bone loss. Muscle loss. Joint pain. Exercise capacity decrease. Why don’t we just add in every other body part and function while we’re at it!!! One thing’s for sure, my capacity for laughing is only increasing with age! Thank goodness.
Anyway, back to science.
The researchers measured fitness in the form of Metabolic Equivalents (METs). The amount of energy or oxygen used to sit quietly for a minute equals 1 MET. Moderate walking burns 3 to 6 METs per minute; running consumes more than 6 METs. According to their calculations, a 50-year-old woman should be able to do 8.2 METs per minute, and a 50-year-old man 9.2. So, doing the math, 85% of 8.2 METs is 6.9 METs. I think I can handle this.
How can we find out what we’re doing? Interestingly enough, apparently we don’t need to go to the doctor to have a fancy exercise or stress test. The answers are on the gym equipment that many of us use. I’ll have to go look, but I think if I click one of those buttons other than the ‘calories burned,’ or ‘distance,’ it’s there.
So, is this a tool or a threat? Something useful or too ‘out there’? I’m viewing it as motivation, to add to my big three reasons I exercise: to avoid knee surgery, weight gain, and bone loss.