Your Treadmill Can Predict Your Mortality

HERE’S SOME GOOD news or bad news, depending on how much you already hate the treadmill. Researchers have devised a test that gives the machine the power to possibly predict your risk of death within the next decade.

The study, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, analysed data gathered over 11.5 years from 58,000 patients who exhibited symptoms that could lead to possible heart trouble. While a doctor measured heart rate, every patient underwent a stress test that had them walk or run on the treadmill at an increasing speed and incline until exhaustion.

Researchers then tracked the deaths of the participants – roughly 6,500 people died over the course of the study – and devised a formula to link mortality to their aerobic fitness.

Specifically they were looking at vitals from the treadmill test like peak heart rate and “metabolic equivalent,” or METs. Zero METs equals the amount of energy you expend lying down while 10 METs equal 10 times that amount. Those results were then plugged into an equation that spat out a number from -200 to 200, which they called the FIT score. The researchers found the higher your MET rate and max heart rate during the test, the better your chance to survive the next decade.

“If you were to get a score and realize your survival chances aren’t good, this test drives home how important your fitness is,” Dr. Michael Blaha, one of the study’s authors, told Runner’s World Newswire. “This is really important because this is death, and there aren’t very many things you can use to predict death reliably.”

Unlike recent studies touting the dangers of running, Blaha and his colleagues found no increased risk to high levels of exercise.

“Our study doesn’t show any upper threshold of fitness level,” Blaha said. “The people in our study had a better survival rate the fitter they were.”

For example, a 40-year-old male with a FIT score higher than 105 had a 98 percent chance of surviving the decade. But a score lower than -7 gave him an 89 percent chance of living another 10 years.

Blaha and his team designed the test and formula to be administered by doctors, but fit runners shouldn’t be too concerned. Blaha says if you can sustain a moderate pace on the treadmill – around 8 kph – on a 10 percent incline for 10 minutes or longer, you should be equipped to outrun death for a long time.

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