Know Your Numbers to Predict Future Ill Health

Posted 01/16/2017 | By HealthCorps

Being unfit can put you at risk of developing lifestyle-related diseases and earlier death.  Unfortunately, fitness is not typically assessed when you visit your healthcare provider.  The testing is time consuming, costly, requires trained personnel and expensive equipment.  So research tends to use non-exercise algorithms in order to “predict” and estimate certain health findings.

In a recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings researchers tested the values of estimated fitness as they tried to predict risk of premature death from heart disease or any other cause, in combination with other risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking habit (or not), family history of heart disease, and diabetes.  The researchers wanted to see if “adding estimated fitness to standard risk factors would improve the odds of predicting earlier mortality risk.”

Researchers used data collected from 38,480 men and women in the HUNT2 study, which followed subjects for 16 years.  They found that using “estimated fitness” was enough to help predict premature (early) death from all causes.  Using estimated fitness, including Fitness Number and Fitness Age is also an easy and inexpensive way for individuals to assess their own fitness levels, and if results are low, they can get motivated to do something about it.

There are numerous studies that suggest the dangers of sedentary living.  A Mayo Clinic Proceedings study published in 2010 identified sedentary living as a new health risk factor.  A 2011 Washington Post column covered the dangers of not moving all day long, even if you did exercise in the morning or evening.  So in addition to exercising daily to improve aerobic health or to build muscles and bone density, it’s important to move throughout the day.

It’s easy to do that by setting alarms on your smartphone so you receive reminders to get up to stretch and walk around your office every hour.  Instead of sending an email, get up and deliver the message directly to the person.  Take a short lunchtime walk.  Put your wastebasket a distance away from your desk so you get up to throw things away.  Get off the subway a stop or two before your work destination, and then also walk those stops before getting on the subway to go home at the end of the day.  Get up during the ads when watching your favorite TV shows or fold laundry standing and put it away during commercials.

Motivated to do more?  Do pushups, squats and jumping jacks during TV breaks.  All of these movement minutes will help to counteract the many sedentary minutes you accumulate daily.

Today is also Martin Luther King Day – HealthCorps honors the memory of this great man and his tremendous impact on furthering race equality with peaceful efforts.

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