Aging comes with wisdom, but unfortunately, it also has some negative effects such as health issues. However, what if those issues could be managed?
Evaluating exercise stress tests
The new study looked at 126,356 patients referred to the Cleveland Clinic in the United States between 1991 and 2015. What they assessed were their exercise stress tests.
Used as an examination for diagnosing heart problems, the exercise test sees patients walk on a treadmill while several elements are measured such as heart rate response to exercise and heart rate recovery. Based on this, the researchers developed a formula to calculate how well people exercise which they called A-BEST (Age Based on Exercise Stress Testing).
The average age of study participants was 53.5 years, and more than half of them (55% of men and 57% of women) were found to be physiologically younger according to A-BEST. The researchers followed them for several years after and discovered that A-BEST was a significantly better predictor of how long they lived than their actual chronological age.
That fact remained true even after adjusting for other conditions including smoking, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and even end-stage kidney disease.
"Age is one of the most reliable risk factors for death: the older you are, the greater your risk of dying," said study author Dr. Serge Harb, cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
"But we found that physiological health is an even better predictor. If you want to live longer then exercise more. It should improve your health and your length of life."
A key motivational tool
Harb also added that telling patients their estimated age based on exercise performance is not only easier for them to understand, rather than hearing individual test results, it is also a better way to motivate them to exercise more.
"Knowing your physiological age is good motivation to increase your exercise performance, which could translate into improved survival," said Dr. Harb.
"Telling a 45-year-old that their physiological age is 55 should be a wake-up call that they are losing years of life by being unfit. On the other hand, a 65-year-old with an A-BEST of 50 is likely to live longer than their peers."
The study is published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).