Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

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.

4 thoughts on “One more reason to exercise

  1. Greta says:

    I’ve been wanting to know about the little graphs that are posted on gym exercise equipment that shows maximum “allowable” safe heart rate decreasing with age. On one piece of exercise equipment that I use (a Precor Elliptical) I get a warning that I am going too fast (heart rate too high) for my age of 54, so I regularly “tell” the machine I am 40 and then it thinks everything is hunky dory. I have wondered about that. I feel just fine at the speed I am going but my friend tells me that one day I might just keel over from over doing it. If I did not have that monitor staring at me I would not even know I was working too hard so I figure if I feel OK then I am OK. I do not know the answer to that one. MET’s I have never even HEARD of let alone knowing how many MET’s I use. What I do know is that my resting heart rate is extremely low and my BP is in a good range. At 54 I am very concerned about all this aging “stuff” but my personal experience is that we can create an EFFECTIVELY lower physical age through our efforts at eating better and exercising more. I started weight lifting 17 months ago and my strength has continued to increase as I go along. At 54 I feel like an athelete which is something I did NOT feel at age 49 when I started this process (60 pounds heavier, with joint pain and non-conditioned muscles). I am MUCH more fit at 54 than at 49 and so that tells me that we are a lot like used cars. What matters most is not the odometer reading but how well we take care of ourselves.

  2. stretchy says:

    Thanks for the new info, Jane. One thing i notice about my exercise routine. My BODY likes it, even if I GRUDGINGLY start out, my body recognizes (Muscle memory?) the dvd (intro music??!) and I feel a ZING of (happiness? enthusiasm?) run thru my whole body. I can’t help but grin when it happens.

    I have 3 dvds that my body just loves and recognizes as “fun” even though my brain is asking “can’t we just skip it today?”
    My body communicates with me in new ways since structured exercise has been a part of my day. For me, well, it took time. I had to try about 20 dvds to find 3 that worked great for me. (They are Esmonde-White’s stretching w/pilates & yoga, Tamilee Webb’s “I want that body” and Sansone’s 3 mile power walk w/ weights.)

    I also tune into FitTv for carribean workout and gilad whenever I can, and sometimes Denise Austin’s programs on Lifetime.

    Too much variety for me means my form may suffer, and I am no spring chicken, so I like learning less than 6 routines and sticking with those.

  3. jonquil says:

    So, to sum up: “move it or lose it.” I can buy that. But “our exercise capacity is lower than men’s?” Well, maybe– but then boys are conditioned from birth to be more physical, and girls were, and still are, expected to “play nice.” If we put more money into Title 9 programs, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about women’s exercise capacity in later life.

  4. Debbie says:

    AT 52, I also feel like an athlete. I ignore the heart rate averages . . . because they are just that. AVERAGES. YMMV, as they say, and mine does.

    The way to keep your fitness capacity high is to work out at a high level (assuming your doc says it’s OK). I have a book on biking past 50 . . . I’m a bicyclist. The book points out that you do have to work out aggressively as you age, to retain fitness.

    Or, in other words, you have to run as fast as the Red Queen said, `Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!’

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