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What’s Your Lifespan? Your Lungs Can Tell You

What’s Your Lifespan? Your Lungs Can Tell You

According to Dr. Al Sears in his newest edition of P.A.C.E. The 12-Minute Fitness Revolution, studies have shown that your lung capacity is absolutely the best indication of your lifespan. The better your lungs work, the longer you’ll live.

It sounds too simplistic, but read on. . .

According to Dr. Sears, Drs. William B. Kannel and Helen Hubert examined Framingham Heart Study data and concluded that “your lungs are the number one predictor of death.”

The Framinhgam Heart Study is a medical study that started in 1948 and has followed a population of thousands for six decades. According to their website,

“In 1948, the Framingham Heart Study embarked on an ambitious project in health research to identify the common factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease by following its development over a long period of time in a large group of participants.”

The original researchers recruited over 5,200 men and women from Framingham, Massachusetts (hence the name of the study). At that time, study participants were free of any cardiovascular disease.

In 1971, the study enrolled adult children of original participants and their spouses, and in 1994 additional subjects were enrolled in order to create a more diverse study population. In 2002 a third generation — the grandchildren of the original participants — started enrolling.

Again, from their website:

“Over the years, careful monitoring of the Framingham Study population has led to the identification of the major CVD risk factors – high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking, obesity, diabetes, and physical inactivity – as well as a great deal of valuable information on the effects of related factors such as blood triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels, age, gender, and psychosocial issues.”

In short, the Framingham Study is one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious ongoing medical studies in the world.

Here’s what the Framingham doctors wrote:

“This pulmonary function measurement appears to be an indicator of general health and vigor and literally a measure of living capacity. . . Long before a person becomes terminally ill, vital capacity can predict life span. The Framingham examinations’ predictive powers were as accurate over the 30-year period as were more recent exams.”

In other words, lung capacity predicted lifespan as accurately as any other exams.

Your Lungs Shrink as You Age

By the time you’re 50, you’ve lost 40% of your lung capacity. By 80, you’ve lost over 60%, on average. According to the Framingham Study, You lose between 9-27% of your lung power per decade.

Other studies confirm their findings. The American College of Chest Physicians published a study in 2000, following up on an earlier study by the University of Buffalo.

“In addition to confirming the link between lungpower and death, they also found an increased risk of death for people with moderately impaired lungpower. . .”

And the University of Otago in New Zealand has found an interesting marker in those with smaller lungs — higher levels of C-reative protein, which is an important marker of inflammation.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s possible to rebuild your lungs — and increase your lifespan.

How Do You Rebuild Your Lungs?

Your lungs, like other systems in your body, respond positively to the right kind of stimulus or challenge. Depending on what you call on them to do, they will adapt accordingly.

If you don’t call on them to do much of anything, they’ll diminish. (Think, “if you don’t use it you lose it.”) If you challenge them in the right way, you can rebuild their power.

But traditional cardio or aerobic exercise won’t do it for you. In fact, traditional cardio actually causes your lung power to shrink.

The solution is an exercise program like PACE, which challenges your lungs (and heart) at maximum capacity for brief, intense bursts followed by rest.

According to Dr. Sears:

“PACE challenges your peak lung volume. Short bursts of intense exertion followed by rest send a signal to your lungs to expand. Over time, your body adapts to the challenge by increasing its lung volume and power.”

Our Ancestors Didn’t Do Cardio

Think about it. Our remote ancestors didn’t run for miles and miles and miles without stopping, they ran for short bursts. Doing a repetetive exercise for long periods of time is unnatural — and boring as all get-out.

And it doesn’t improve your lung capacity.

I’ve been swimming several times a week for a few months now, doing a PACE-style workout with periods of hard work followed by rest. If I had thought of it, I would have measured my lung capacity before I started. I even had a little gizmo to do it with, a reminder of a hospital stay a few years ago. Unfortunately, in a bout of wild cleaning, we threw out the device. But I’m quite sure my lungs are functioning better than they were, and I will try to measure and report back to you.

In the meantime, if you want to spend less time working out and achieve results that are much better for your health, I highly recommend PACE. Click here to get more information or here to order the book. If you buy the book, you’ll also get a workbook, a body composition calculator and a set of workout videos to help you put together your own PACE program.

Are you already doing PACE? How’s it working for you?

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