In the near future, there may be a familiar addition to your doctor’s office: a treadmill. This could be good news or bad news, depending on how much you love—or hate—the ol’ dreadmill. A team of Johns Hopkins University cardiologists has found a way to accurately predict your risk of dying over a 10-year period based solely off how well you’re able to run on a treadmill, using something they call a FIT Treadmill Score, a measure of cardiovascular health.
Here’s how it works:
You start walking on a treadmill at 12.7 kmph, at a 10% incline. Every three minutes, you increase your speed and incline. While you walk and run, your doctor keeps tabs on your heart rate and how much energy you’re expending (measured by METs, or metabolic equivalents of task; one MET is equal to the amount of energy you’d expect just sitting around, two METs is slow walking, and so on). When you feel like you’re at your absolute limit, you stop.
When you’re done, your M.D. will calculate what percentage of your maximum predicted heart rate (MPHR) you reached. (Calculate your MPHR.) It’s based on age; if you’re 30, it’s 190. So if your heart rate reaches 162 while you’re running on the treadmill, you hit 85 percent of your MPHR.)