Skip the elevator and head for the stairs
Last month the European Society of Cardiology published the results of an interesting research study involving almost 13,000 adults.
What did the findings show?
That adults who were in the best shape (determined by treadmill and echocardiogram) were less likely to die prematurely of heart disease or cancer than those with poor “functional capacity.”
The authors of the study equated their testing with running up four flights of stairs in under one minute, without stopping: the Stair Test.
I love the Stair Test because it provides such a simple way to measure what kind of shape we’re in, and then take steps (haha, punny) to improve it.
If you pass the Stair Test, you can consider yourself in pretty good shape. Keep it up!
If you fail, you need to exercise more.
We already know that exercise has an important role in preventing heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Regular exercise lowers blood pressure and inflammation, and has a positive impact on blood glucose and lipid levels.
Being a couch potato does the opposite.
Aim for breathlessness every day
The other thing the study showed is that most of us probably need to exercise harder, and aim for a greater level of physical exertion.
Cardiologists recommend 30 minutes of “challenging” exercise every day.
What is considered challenging? Being slightly short of breath, enough that you can’t carry on a conversation.
If you’re breathless, you’re probably at or close to your target heart rate for an optimal cardio workout.
In other words, if you’re out walking with a friend and chatting away, neither of you is hitting your target heart rate and getting the most out of the exercise. Stop talking and walk faster!
When I go to the gym in the morning, the treadmill tells me what my target heart rate should be, and I try to keep it there for about 30 minutes. I started pushing myself more a few months ago, and I’ve definitely noticed improvement.
I’m happy to say I passed the Stair Test!
For more information, the Mayo Clinic website has an excellent web page on exercise intensity and getting the most out of your workouts. Check it out.
If you’re out of shape or overweight, or have a medical condition that requires treatment, always check with your physician before starting a new exercise program.