A large medical study has shown compelling results that a simple test you can do almost anywhere could shed light on whether or not you will die early.
New research suggests your ability to ascend the staircase with ease means you will live a long and healthy life free from disease.
Conversely, those who cannot traverse four flights of stairs without stopping for a break are not in good stead for a long life. If you need to grab onto the handrail and gasp for breath before you reach your destination (whether it be rooftop bar of your place of work), it’s prognosis negative.
Those who struggle on the stairs are twice as likely to die from cancer, and even worse, three times more likely to die from heart disease. A difficulty climbing stairs is now compellingly linked to early deaths from illnesses like cancer and heart disease.
The cancer-related deaths among the less fit individuals were damning. Those who struggled with the simple fitness task died at a rate of 1.5 per cent whereas those who didn’t struggle died at a rate of 0.8.
The risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was 3.2 per cent among the less fit, and 1.2 per cent among able stair climbers.
Deaths from other causes were tripled in respondents who couldn’t climb the four flights of stairs.
EXERCISE STAVES OFF CANCER, HEART ATTACKS AND DEATH
“In addition to keeping body weight down, physical activity has positive effects on blood pressure and lipids, reduces inflammation, and improves the body’s immune response to tumours,” said Dr Jesús Peteiro, who headed up the study.
Dr Peteiro is a cardiologist at the University Hospital Coruña in Galicia in Spain. His team’s results suggest life-lengthening benefits from fitness.
The Australian government guidelines on physical activity recommend a combination of muscle strengthening activities and a combination of moderate physical activities and vigorous physical activities accumulating to at least 150 minutes of activity per week.
It is recommended Australians aim to be active every day of the week.
“If you can walk very fast up three floors of stairs without stopping, or fast up four floors without stopping, you have good functional capacity,” Dr Peteiro said.
“If not, it’s a good indication that you need more exercise.”
HOW WAS THE TESTING COMPLETED?
The study was conducted by Spanish researchers on almost 13,000 people who had been diagnosed or had suspected coronary artery disease (CAD).
CAD is the most common cause of heart attack. In 2017 in Australia, heart disease was the leading cause of death, though the number of deaths have been steadily declining over the past decade.
During the study participants were tested using the standard treadmill test where patients are asked to expend energy with rising intensity until they reach the point of exhaustion.
Over the course of the five-year study, 1253 patients died from cardiovascular disease. A further 670 died from cancer and 650 from other causes.
There is currently no cure for CAD, but treatments include lifestyle changes, drastic changes in diet and medication.
Treatments for cancer are invasive and vary depending on the cancer’s severity and type.