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Fitness: The New Vital Sign

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Vital Sign

Why your aerobic-fitness levels may be just as important to your health as your blood pressure.

The next time your doctor checks your blood pressure, don’t be surprised if he or she also asks about your general aerobic-fitness levels.

How well your body delivers oxygen to its tissues may be just as important a risk factor for early death as traditional vital signs like high cholesterol or hypertension and lifestyle habits like smoking, according to a recent American Heart Association report. The finding is likely to encourage physicians to take a broader view of health risks — and lifestyle remedies.

There are a few ways to determine aerobic health, including digital fitness calculators. The most accurate is a VO2 max test, available at many health clubs.

is an Experience Life deputy editor.