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Last year at this time, I made the New Year's resolution to take an extra staircase in the office every day. I arrive every morning and congratulate myself that I was a superior person who did not take the escalator. Oh, and I live in an apartment on the third floor. Nothing could have prepared me for the headlines this morning. How good you are at a new level test could determine your risk of dying. (Related: 5 Reasons Why the Stair Climber Is Really Worth Your Time)
These headlines raise a new study presented this week at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Milan. Spanish researchers found that high performers in a stress test had a lower risk of death from heart disease, cancer or other causes, and the level of fitness required for these life-prolonging services is as if they were climbing four flights of stairs quickly without stopping. (Related: This is the best anti-aging training, according to science)
How the study works: The researchers recruited more than 1
Your fitness has been calculated in so-called METs or metabolic equivalents. A measurable MET is the energy I need to sit relatively quietly in front of this computer. Individuals in the study who were able to cope with 10 METs with treadmill activity were rated as performing in the test – or had good "functioning".
These individuals had great health benefits: Compared to people with poor functioning, in the next five or so years, high performers were less likely to die from cancer, heart disease or other causes. For each additional MWB tested in the test, the risk of dying from these causes decreased by 9%, 9% and 4%, respectively. (See: Why Are You Out of Breath When You Go Up the Stairs (Although You Are Fit))
Without access to a fancy sci-fi treadmill setup, can we calculate our METs without normalcy? Here comes the stairs into play. "There are much cheaper methods to estimate if you could achieve 10 METs in the treadmill test," study author Dr. Jesús Peteiro, cardiologist at the University Hospital A Coruña in Spain in a statement. "If you can go very fast three levels of stairs without stopping or four floors without stopping can start up quickly, you have a good functioning. If not, this is a good indication that you need more exercise. "Try to get these four floors done in less than a minute," Dr. Peteiro across from TODAY Floor of my office building, broke my iPhone timer and started running. Only a naïve onlooker looked funny at me, and I sat back in my chair before my colleagues even noticed that I had left – though my gasp might have given me away. How many more years will I get if I can do four flights in 32 seconds? (See also: Why do you feel upset when you go up the stairs?)
Of course, it's not particularly surprising that the physically healthy people in the new research would rather live longer, even if the level test itself is the case somehow funny. "Our results provide further evidence of the benefits of exercise and of health and longevity," Dr. Peteiro in the explanation. "In addition to maintaining body weight, physical activity has a positive effect on blood pressure and lipids, reduces inflammation and improves the body's immune response to tumors." You've heard it all before, sure – but only 19 percent of women get enough exercise, so it's worth it to repeat it.
How much exercise is enough? According to the recently updated guidelines for Americans, we should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of intense activity per week, in addition to some strength training. What you can do on the stairs, by the way.
This story was originally published on Health.com by Sarah Klein.