Tag Archives: New York Times

What’s Your Fitness Age?

You already know your chronological age, but do you know your fitness age?

A new study of fitness and lifespan suggests that a person’s so-called fitness age – determined primarily by a measure of cardiovascular endurance – is a better predictor of longevity than chronological age. The good news is that unlike your actual age, your fitness age can decrease.

The concept of fitness age has been developed by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, who have studied fitness and how it relates to wellness for years.

Fitness age is determined primarily by your VO2max, which is a measure of your body’s ability to take in and utilize oxygen. VO2max indicates your current cardiovascular endurance.

It also can be used to compare your fitness with that of other people of the same age, providing you, in the process, with a personal fitness age. If your VO2max is below average for your age group, then your fitness age is older than your actual age.

But if you compare well, you can actually turn back the clock to a younger fitness age. That means a 50-year-old man conceivably could have a fitness age between 30 and 75, depending on his VO2max.

Knowing your fitness age could be instructive and perhaps sobering, but it also necessitates knowing your VO2max first, which few of us do. Precise measurement of aerobic capacity requires high-tech treadmill testing.

To work around that problem, the Norwegian scientists decided several years ago to develop an easy method for estimating VO2max. They recruited almost 5,000 Norwegians between the ages of 20 and 90, measured their aerobic capacity with treadmill testing and also checked a variety of health parameters, including waist circumference, heart rate and exercise habits.

To read more, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

A Look Into Doctors Treating Patients Like Themselves

New York Times Blog Hard Cases delves into the unpredictable outcomes of doctors taking care of patients who are exactly like themselves.

Dr. Abigail Zuger explores interpersonal chemistry, gender, and ethnicity to determine what binds and estranges patients and doctors. Furthermore, if this type of connection causes any different outcome in patients’ health.

“Professional training may not remove the interpersonal chemistry that binds us to some and estranges us from others, but it can neutralize these forces somewhat, enough to enable civilized and productive dialogue among all comers. Yet until the day when we deal only in cells, organs and genes and not their human containers, we will, for better or worse, always see ourselves in some patients, our friends and relatives in others, and our patients will likewise instinctively experience doctor as mother or father, buddy or virtual stranger.”

Dr. Zuger portrays two stories of female patients visiting a gynecologist she has referred them to. Patient A is enamored with gynecologist because she understands her feelings and concerns. While Patient B is underwhelmed by the gynecologist. As Patient B and her doctor discuss menstrual cramps, her doctors states “they’re just not all that bad.”

Data collected over a decade concluded that most women preferred female gynecologists because they communicated better with one another. A separate study found patients who saw doctors of the same race generally had longer and friendlier visits.

However, when it comes to health outcomes, results are scattered. One study found that having a doctor of the same race had no correlation with good blood pressure, the important this was whether the patient trusted the doctor. While another study discovered that black patients took their medications a little more assiduously, but the same did not hold true for Asians and Asian doctors.

To read more, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary