The case for measuring fitness

Cardiorespiratory fitness may soon be considered as a vital sign on par with blood pressure and heart rate.

Image: © iStock

Three decades' worth of solid evidence linking a sedentary lifestyle to higher risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and early death has silenced even the most ardent exercise deniers. Nonetheless, a metric quantifying a person's level of aerobic fitness has yet to make it into the set of tools commonly used to predict heart disease.

But that may soon change. The American Heart Association recently released a statement calling for cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) to be considered a clinical vital sign, similar to how blood pressure, heart rate, and tobacco use are treated now. Assessing fitness level at your annual visit would help your doctor get a better picture of your underlying heart health and risk of disease down the road.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »