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Did you know that you don’t just have one age?
Sounds a little weird, right…
The fact is that you have a chronological age (the length of time from your date of birth to today) and a physiological age (basically your “fitness age”).
It’s like the old saying — it’s not how old you are, it’s how young you feel, sort of.
While your chronological age indicates your years on the planet, it’s your body’s true age, your physiological age, that you should be more interested in.
That’s because your physiological age can reveal if it’s in the cards for you to live to a ripe old age or suffer risk factors that could lead to premature death.
How can you tell how old you are in physiological years then? Do you look in the mirror and guess?
But a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) has found a way to determine your physiological age by taking a simple test in your cardiologist’s office.
How old does your body say you are?
The test that can answer that question is called an exercise stress test, and if you’ve ever seen a doctor to check on your heart, you’ve probably had one already.
Basically, it’s where you exercise on a treadmill (which gets progressively more difficult) and then the doctor looks at how your heart responds to the exercise and how it recovers.
Now, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have developed a calculation based on the results of the test that can determine physiological age…
The researchers examined the exercise capacity, heart rate response to exercise, and heart rate recovery of 126,356 patients over a period of 26 years.
They then calculated what they’re calling A-BEST (Age Based on Exercise Stress Testing), taking into account gender and use of medications that affect heart rate and followed up with the patients for an average of 8.7 years.
The team found that A-BEST was a significantly better predictor of survival than chronological age, even after adjusting for sex, smoking, body mass index, statin use, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and end-stage kidney disease. And, it was true for both men and women.
“Knowing your physiological age is good motivation to increase your exercise performance, which could translate into improved survival,” said study author Dr. Serge Harb, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic in the United States. “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.”
And, he had one more piece of advice based on the study, “If you want to live longer then exercise more. It should improve your health and your length of life.”
Checking in with your cardiologist
This study means that knowing your physiological age (and lowering it if you’re experiencing issues) could be an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to living longer.
Your cardiologist should be able to fill in the blank and calculate you’re A-BEST based on a stress test. And, don’t worry… these are commonly ordered whether you’ve been seeing a heart doctor for years or going to be calling in for an initial visit.
In fact, I recently had my first visit at a cardiologist’s office and that was the very first test they ordered. According to the nurse, it takes about 45 minutes and all you need to do to be prepared is to wear comfortable clothes and tennis shoes.
Take steps now to determine your physiological age to have a baseline to work from and then take Dr. Harb’s advice and exercise regularly to bring that age down whether it’s higher or lower than your chronological age. After all, we could all use a little improvement.
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- What’s age got to do with it? — EurekAlert!