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The Best Predictor of Survival - Fitness

cyclists riding through desert

A landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine studied fitness as a predictor of survival. The researchers found that next to age, the best predictor of survival was simply how fit they were as determined by a treadmill test. The longer they could go on the treadmill, the lower their risk of dying. This was more predictive than all other variables, including their family history, cholesterol and blood pressure levels, or whether or not they smoked. The bottom line is, perhaps the most important thing you can do to ensure a long life is simply to get and stay fit.

Often, the hardest part of being fit can be starting. Here are ten tips on how to start an exercise program:

1. Begin slowly. Be careful not to overdo it. Do only five or ten minutes of exercise at first, even if it is only walking around the block.

2. Find activities that you truly enjoy. Your chances of sticking with an unpleasant program for the long term are not good.

3. Increase your workout time and intensity not more than about 10 percent per week.

4. Listen to your body. If a joint or muscle begins to hurt, ease off or find another activity to do instead for a few days. If you feel strong, go a little further or harder.

5. Find an exercise partner. A dog is ideal, but a friend or family member will do fine as well.

6. Stay well hydrated.

7. Get advice from a pro. Hire a personal trainer to give you pointers on what is best for you. Even if it is for only an occasional hour to receive tips and a fresh workout routine, professional input can really keep you on track.

8. Cross-train. This is one of the most important features of an ideal exercise routine. Different activities will prevent injuries and burnout and keep you enthused and optimally fit.

9. Start your exercise session slowly, with five or ten minutes at a low-level intensity warm-up pace. Save the stretching for after the exercise session. Stretching after exercise does you more good than stretching before.

10. Set goals and reward yourself when you achieve them. Sign up for a race or an active vacation for which you will need to train.

In Good Health,

James O’Keefe, MD

Photo Credit: Pixabay Creative Commons