How Strong is Your Heart? This Treadmill Test Predicts Life Span!

We all know that being physically fit can contribute to a longer, healthier life, but to what extent? Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have developed a formula that can predict your risk of dying within the next ten years, based on your cardiovascular fitness. It’s called the “FIT Treadmill Score” and it might just change the way you approach your workout routine.

The research examined 58,000 cardiovascular stress tests performed on treadmills in medical clinics. The FIT Treadmill Score calculates the chances of dying in the next decade based on factors like how fast your heart beats at its peak rate during intense exercise, and how well you can endure physical activity as the speed and incline of a treadmill increase.

Examining the Results

According to the study, a 45-year-old woman who was in the bottom 5th percentile of fitness had a 38 percent risk of dying within the next ten years. Comparatively, a 45-year-old woman in the top fitness percentile had only a 2 percent chance of dying within the same time frame.

Interestingly, the researchers found that the type of fitness associated with living a longer and healthier life was not what experts have been recommending for years. Many of us have been led to believe that cardiovascular fitness, achieved through activities like aerobics, walking, and endurance sports, was the key to a healthy heart and a long life. However, the study’s results indicate otherwise.

Instead, they suggest that it’s not about how far you can run or how long you can keep up with a workout; it’s about how strong your heart and lungs are. The “peak metabolic equivalents” and maximum heart rate achieved during the stress tests were the factors most highly predictive of survival.

Rethinking Your Fitness Routine

So, what does this mean for your exercise routine? Essentially, it may be worth focusing more on shorter, higher-intensity workouts rather than long, steady-state cardiovascular activities. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be a highly effective way to improve your cardiovascular fitness and help you achieve a higher maximum heart rate.

Examples of high-intensity exercises that can help build strong, powerful hearts and lungs include:

  • Sprinting: Instead of jogging at a moderate pace, incorporate several short bursts of sprinting into your runs, followed by a slower recovery jog or walk.
  • Hill Repeats: Find a hill with a challenging incline and walk or run up and down several times for an intense, heart-strengthening workout.
  • Swimming Sprints: Rather than swimming leisurely laps, try swimming a shorter distance as fast as possible, taking brief breaks between each high-intensity lap.
  • Resistance Training: Weightlifting and bodyweight exercises can also contribute to overall cardiovascular fitness by strengthening the heart and increasing heart rate during exertion.

Incorporating these types of exercises into your routine can help to increase the maximum heart rate you can achieve, ultimately leading to a longer life.

The Bottom Line

The FIT Treadmill Score offers a new perspective on cardiovascular fitness and its effects on longevity. By focusing on boosting the power and strength of our heart and lungs, rather than solely relying on long-duration cardio activities, we can potentially reduce our risk of dying in the next decade. The good news is that it’s never too late to change your approach to fitness, so consider incorporating more high-intensity, heart-strengthening workouts into your routine and enjoy the potential benefits of a longer, healthier life.