Ask for a cardiorespiratory fitness check-up

DALLAS – December 2016 – Chances are your routine checkup involves height, weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, but if you’ve never had your cardiorespiratory fitness assessed, add that to the list, says Dr. Benjamin Levine, a Professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Director of the Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medical, jointly run by UT Southwestern and Texas Health Resources.

“Cardiorespiratory fitness represents the maximal work a person can do during exercise. It’s generally measured on a treadmill or a bike, though it can also be estimated by simple field tests, like the time someone can run or walk two miles,” says Dr. Levine, who was part of an American Heart Association group that recently issued a Scientific Statement calling for physicians to make an assessment of cardiorespiratory fitness a routine part of patient care.

While there are sophisticated and precise measurements of cardiorespiratory fitness that are done in a physician’s office, it’s possible for individuals to get a rough estimate of their fitness on their own. There are many versions of cardiorespiratory fitness tests and calculators online

“This measurement is so important because it shows how the heart, lungs, and muscles all work together, and it should be an element of assessment of heart disease risk along with factors like smoking history, diabetes, and hypertension,” Dr. Levine says. “Decades of tests have clearly demonstrated that the ability to do aerobic exercise is strongly correlated with heart health.”

Dr. Ben Levine is Professor of Internal Medicine who holds the Distinguished Professorship in Exercise Sciences.

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