Take the test if you are not fit for your age? , Do you tire from climbing stairs while your dad hops along in front of you? An increasing number of young people are compromising heart health because of lifestyle choices that start in early childhood.
A recent report from the British Heart Foundation found that 44 per cent of adults never exercise. The good news is it’s never too early or too late to start.
Take their test to check whether you’re as fit as you should be for your age. TOI spoke to Dr Pratik Soni, cardiologist at Wockhardt Hospital to improve your fitness, whatever your age.
20s YOU should be at your physical peak in your twenties – but, be warned, the ageing process kicks in at 25, as you start to lose muscle mass at up to 1 per cent a year.
CHALLENGE: Bleep Test (Download the app on your cell phone) This involves running between two points, getting faster as you progress. The aim is to keep going for as long as possible. Set two markers exactly 20 metres apart. Start the app and jog gently to the first marker, jog back when you hear the bleep, then back to the first marker, aiming to arrive at each marker in time for the bleep. The test starts comfortably slowly, but with each minute, the bleeps get closer together.
When you can no longer reach the marker before you hear the bleep, stop and check your score.
This is a crucial decade for building good exercise habits, muscle mass and bone density — which fall later in life. “Before the age of 20, heart problems are rare unless it’s a congenital defect,” says Dr Soni who has treated one patient aged 16. Patients in their twenties however, are on the rise. “This is due to lifestyle and food. Kids start to accumulate cholesterol at the age of seven and the effects are seen in early adulthood,” he says. Couple this with the fact that they don’t engage in any exercise and you are moving towards dangerous territory. Aim for 200 minutes of aerobic activity per week. It burns calories which controls other parameters like blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Good score Level 10-11
Bad score Level 5 (or less)
30s FOR many women, this decade is dominated by pregnancy and young motherhood, and hormonal changes can throw up problems. However, men and women who are active could be at risk of over-use injuries in this decade. This includes damage to the cartilage which cushions the joints.
CHALLENGE: Fun Run. Try To Run A Mile (1.6 Km) A study by the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas, showed that the speed you can run a mile by the age of 40 could become a spooky prediction of your risk of heart disease years later. If you take longer than ten minutes (12 minutes for women), you have a 30 per cent greater risk of developing and dying from heart disease in 30 years’ time.
Keeping fit now means working harder than in your 20s. Take time to find a sport or activity you enjoy and which you can fit around the other demands on your time (cycle to work; book an exercise class three evenings a week).
Make activity part of your life – stand instead of sitting, take stairs not lifts, never stand still on an escalator and pay attention to your posture.
Speed up your mile: start by walking fast, break into jogging intervals as your fitness increases, then run when you can.
Good score 9 minutes for a woman, 8 for a man
Bad score Over 12 min
40s THIS is the decade of the triple whammy: hormonal decline, gravity pulling everything south and as the reduction in muscle mass accelerates, your metabolism slows – because muscle burns more fat as fuel. As a result, we put on weight.
CHALLENGE: Step Test This is a step-up exercise – you will need a high step that’s 12 inches above the ground. Warm up for 10 minutes by marching on the spot swinging your arms, then start a stopwatch and simply step up and down, one foot at a time, for three minutes. The only way to boost your metabolic rate is to prevent muscle depletion by strength training. This test seems simple, but it is a great measure of fitness, balance, agility and rhythm.
This is a challenging decade as most people are torn between the demands of young children and ageing parents. “Cut down on empty calories like colas and alcohol. Take a brisk walk for 15-30 minutes, four times a week. One year of regular exercise can cut your risk of health attack by 10 per cent which is significant,” says Dr Soni. It is important to integrate activity into every opportunity throughout the day to hold back the effects of ageing.
Good score pulse should be less than 90 to 95 per minute for men and less than 95 to 100 for women
Bad score breathlessness, inability to complete task