Use stairs to test your risk of heart disease, cancer

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The new year is fast approaching and if you are brainstorming healthy resolutions there is a simple test you can do to see if you need to increase your exercise routine.

All you need for this do it yourself stress test is four flights of stairs, a timer and other people to see who can do it the fastest.

Dr. Steven Joggerst, a cardiologist at Saint Francis Medical Center, says the results can give you an idea of whether or not you are at risk of dying from heart disease and cancer.

"Any way we can get patients more motivated, patients to exercise and self-evaluate is an excellent thing,” said Joggerst. “And to be clear what we are talking about is risk. This is not a diagnosis for heart disease or any other disease. We are really assessing risk.”

The 4-flight stair challenge came from a recent study written by a cardiologist from Spain, Dr. Jesús Peteiro.

The goal is to climb up four levels a fast pace and get to the top in under one minute.

Dr. Peteiro found that finishing the test with time to spare means you have a good exercise capacity, but if it takes you more than a minute it’s a sign you need more exercise.

Dr. Joggerst says the stair challenge is similar to stress tests they do in a hospital.

"We know if a patient is able to reach 10 MET's, or ten metabolic equivalents of activity then their risk of heart disease is low,” he said. “It does not mean it's zero but it is lower than individual next to them who is unable to achieve that."

While testing your risk can be easy, Joggerst thinks taking action is more difficult.

Instead of getting a gym membership, he suggests forming a routine around a simple activity.

"Anything that gets your heart rate up. If you enjoy walking, running, swimming, biking. Rather than shooting for the moon, if you can get part of your schedule where you are regularly active it will become a habit for you,” he said. “It will make it past the New Year’s resolution point by Spring, by Summer, by next year you are still exercising because its something you enjoy."

Dr. Joggerst says a healthy diet and watching your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels are also great ways to reduce your risk of heart disease.

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