Prevention & Recovery

Want to know how long you'll live? Do the treadmill test

By: Jill Buchner

Getty Images Author: Canadian Living Credits: Getty Images

Prevention & Recovery

Want to know how long you'll live? Do the treadmill test

By: Jill Buchner
What happens when you get on a treadmill and gradually increase the speed and the incline? At what point do you tire out? When does your heart rate soar? The answers to these questions could say a lot about how much life you have left in you.

New research from Johns Hopkins University suggests that a simple test could indicate how likely you are to die within the next 10 years—and all you need for the test is a treadmill.

The idea came from an analysis of about 58,000 people's treadmill stress tests over the course of nearly 20 years. Those tests calculated fitness level, measured in metabolic equivalents (METs), as well as symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting or dizziness experienced while on the treadmill. Researchers followed up to see which subjects had died from any cause over a span of 10 years.

With the results, they developed the FIT Treadmill Score, which predicts the likelihood of death over the next decade. It determines your chance of survival using four key factors:
1. age
2. gender
3. fitness level
4. peak heart rate reached during exercise

While the connection between age and mortality might seem obvious, it is interesting that, for those of the same age and gender, researchers found that fitness level and heart rate were the best indicators of mortality. Their data showed that even things like diabetes and family history were not as important as fitness level when it came to predicting how long someone has to live.

Though you'll have to see a doctor to determine your fitness level, measured in METs, the formula for the FIT Treadmill Score goes something like this:

% of maximum predicted heart rate + 12 METs – age x 4 + 43 (if female)

Your score can range from -200 to 200. If you score between 0 and -100, you've got an 11 percent chance of dying in the next 10 years. If you score lower, the odds grow to 38 percent.

The bottom line? Fitness is key to health and longevity. If you feel winded or notice your heart pounding early on in your workout, or if you have been avoiding fitness altogether, it's time to get moving!

Looking to increase your fitness level? Start a running or walking regimen with this great guide.

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Prevention & Recovery

Want to know how long you'll live? Do the treadmill test

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