Like everyone, I’m concerned about my risk of today’s number one killer — cardiovascular disease.
My dad suffered his first heart attack when he was still in his fifties and he died prematurely at 72. So I have particular reason to be concerned.
Sure, I like to worry. But I’m also learning that doing something about my health is a lot better than worrying. And, fortunately, we know a lot about exercise and heart disease, so there’s plenty I can do about it.
There are powerful tools available that can reduce your risk of a heart attack or other cardiovascular problem dramatically – by 50–70% or even more.
A large research project studied “exercise capacity” and overall mortality risk of thousands of veterans.
Exercise capacity means how much metabolic output your body can generate when exercising. If you’ve ever used a piece of exercise equipment at the gym, you know what I’m talking about. Treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical trainers have a readout that shows the number of MET’s you’re putting out at any one moment.
The research study showed:
Those veterans with a metabolic equivalent (MET) capacity of more than 10 METs were in the highest category of fitness – and were 70% less likely to suffer a serious heart attack or stroke. That’s more or less the equivalent of being able to run a mile in ten minutes.
Even those who weren’t at the top of the heap – with MET capacity between 7 and 9, for instance – still enjoyed a dramatic health benefit.
The lead author, Dr. Peter Kokkinos, says, “For a little bit of investment you get a lot of a return. In a time where health insurance in this country is going through the roof, we could do something like walk for thirty minutes a day and reap major benefits. For god’s sake, if we could walk on the moon we can certainly walk on earth.”
So it’s pretty easy. Get yourself off your butt to improve your metabolic capacity. You can start just by walking. Then improve your fitness more quickly by using my “45 Seconds to Fitness” method.
And there are two more reasons why improving your fitness offers such benefit:
1. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what your cardiac health is to begin with, if you’re taking medication or not, if you’re black, white, or some other shade, if you’re too fat or thin as a rail, or anything. The benefits of increased metabolic capacity are available to everyone.
2. The dramatic benefits you’ll see from exercise are only the beginning. After all, no one in this study changed their diet one iota. If, in addition to improving your fitness, you also improve your diet you’ll get an even steeper benefit.
Take action. Exercise. It matters – probably more than all the statin drugs and blood pressure pills in the world. Of course, don’t be an oblivious idiot – get checked out by your doctor, too. But don’t get dragged into the negativity and fear cycle when it comes to your potential for cardiovascular disease. There’s plenty you can do to take care of yourself.