Keep commitments to yourself

I Am All In Accept Challenge Total Commitment Confident Buttons Pins 3d Illustration

I can keep commitments.  I am rarely late for a lunch date, and on the extremely rare occasion I forget an appointment, I am utterly mortified.    

I am totally speculating here, but it seems to me, women are hard wired to keep commitments – it’s threaded into our DNA.  Women are caregivers by nature and by nurture and when you care for someone, you keep commitments.  This is a very good thing.  Our caregiver commitments protected us from extinction.  Women are responsible for the future of the human race – but hey, no pressure! 

But can you keep commitments to yourself, especially self-care commitments?  If you are at all like me, it’s a struggle.  Somehow, the bit of DNA that codes for keeping commitments to oneself is overshadowed by our caregiver commitments. 

Fortunately keeping commitments is a skill, a skill you can transfer to your self care commitments.  That tiny shift can make a massive difference.  

 As with most things, increasing your awareness is the first step.  Notice how often you keep commitments to yourself (or not.)  If you keep them, BRAVO!  If you are not this exceptional woman (yet), start to gather data – both the wins and the misses.  Be curious and kind with yourself as you gather this information.  This is NOT an exercise in self-shaming.  Simply gather evidence to help you reach a thoughtful conclusion.

 As you collect your data, look for patterns.  What is different about a WIN versus a MISS?  What were you thinking, how were you feeling, before, during and after each win or miss? 

 Take some time to identify what is truly important to you.  Audit your priorities – often. It’s a highly recommended quarterly activity.  Sadly, this reassessment is neglected until the turn of the calendar year, tax time or life throws an interesting twist/crisis in your path.  What would a quarterly audit of your routine activities illustrate about your priorities?  Would it show your priorities are actually your priorities?  Are you spending your time where you think you are spending your time? Again, gather information.  Be curious.  Be kind to yourself.

Sometimes we have been adjusting our priorities for those we love for so long, we are uncertain what we would want for ourselves.  Explore ideas.  Recall what you used to love back in your early twenties.  Pay attention to where your mind wanders – our day dreams are full of information.  

Sometimes we take risks.  Sometimes we play it safe.  Choose the former.  I’m not sure yet, but 30+ years from now, I believe I would rather remember with fondness the risks I took and stumbled through rather than remember with regret the risks I never took.

Keeping commitments to oneself is possible.  Increase awareness, audit your priorities often, listen for your dreams and take a little risk.  Not only will you keep commitment to yourself, but you will enrich your life and the lives of those you love!

Live Life, Love Life, Always
Coach Karen

Life coaching helps you redesign your future, reclaim your enthusiasm and recharge your energy for life.  What are you waiting for?  Let’s chat – CLICK HERE.

The Great Belief Paradox

Brave business woman posing as super hero

When you want to make a change you sometimes have to believe something new without any evidence it is possible.  What a fantastic skill to develop – the ability to believe you can do something you have never done before.   

Kids do this all the time – they haven’t yet learned how to be afraid to explore and experiment.  Toddlers are not afraid to do stuff and fail.  They do not understand the meaning of failure.  They just figure something else out.  

How different would your life be if you didn’t understand the meaning of failure and you just figured something else out?  Well worth pondering. 

What is a belief anyway?  It’s a thought; a thought that you have repeated to yourself so many times you believe it.  

And if you believe the thought (that is, you have the belief), then you will create the result you are after.  The problem is, the belief needs to be present before you can create the results of that belief. 

It’s the great belief paradox.  You must create the belief before you can create the evidence to support the belief.  

So how do you believe in yourself without any evidence to support whatever it is you want to believe?  You create belief in your mind, in your imagination.  

Imagine it and create it. To paraphrase Tom Bileu (host, Impact Theory podcast) – as long as it doesn’t defy the laws of physics, go for it.  

Create a very clear thought and hold that thought in your mind.  Then repeat that clear message to yourself often.  Then do the toddler thing – experiment, explore.  Do something, take action.  See if that action works.  If it doesn’t, do something else.  If it works, keep on keeping on.  There is no fail.

You may have heard the phrase “Know thyself” – attributed to Socrates, one of the great Greek philosophical thinkers that planted the seeds of stoicism (more on stoicism some other blog).  

But what if ‘know thyself’ is just the beginning?  Add on ‘imagine thyself.’  Sure it’s important to know thyself, but to imagine thyself?  So much more powerful.

Imagine thyself and create belief in yourself to support that belief.  Okay so I am at the beginning of an impossible journey challenge – to become an endurance cycle-tourist (more on that as my challenge progresses).  Here is the problem, I’m over 60y, I have shoulder, wrist, hand and knee problems and I’m afraid to cycle outside. Umm… bit of a problem huh?  

So step one of creating belief is to imagine it.  Create it in your mind’s eye as vividly as possible. The sweat dripping off your nose, heavy breathing, burning in your quads, a sore butt, the breeze through your hemet, the pride you feel in overcoming the challenge of a summit, rewarded with the incredible view.  Friendships forged in the shared struggle.  Feel the pride.  Feel the reward. 

Now, borrow that imagined feeling and use it today to fuel your desire to become the woman you need to become to actually feel that feeling and train to become an endurance cyclist tourist (however I decide to define it for myself).  

So fun to try right?

Every belief starts out as a thought.  Grab that thought, give it meaning.  And then you can, make it a reality… The great belief paradox – the belief before evidence.

Live Life, Love Life, Always
Dr Karen

Life coaching helps you redesign your future, reclaim your enthusiasm and recharge your energy for life.  What are you waiting for?  Let’s chat.


The gifts of boredom


Gifts of boredom – say what?  Gifts? Surely you jest!   I mentioned boredom in my post on the preciousness of our undivided attention.  

Boredom is taboo, to be avoided at all cost.  And nowadays, boredom is unbelievably easy to avoid. 

Years ago I remember commenting to a friend about the impending demise of conversation with the introduction of walkmans.  (Totally dating myself, I know!)  Three decades later, for the most part, impromptu conversation is over.  Sit on the subway – mostly silence in the drone of the tracks.  Restaurants – four people out for dinner, phones on the table, pinging and binging.  

I once bravely asked a colleague to put away his phone during a meeting because I found it distracting.  My apparently unreasonable request was dismissed and much to my utter surprise others at the meeting defended him.  Seriously?  What was so important that he could not disconnect for 15 minutes? 

It’s truly mind boggling how entangled we are with our technology.  It’s time to disentangle.

Boredom is the terrain through which we must trudge to get to excellence.  It is the price to be paid.  And if you want to get beyond excellence to true mastery then you must master boredom.  

In his book Mastery – Robert Greene notes “you must meet any boredom head-on and not try to avoid or repress it” if you wish to attain mastery.

Here’s the challenge as I see it.  Self-doubt, frustration, self-criticism and yes boredom don’t disappear just because you solved for them once-upon-a-time. Unlike learning to ride a bike where once you figure it out and practise a bit, decades later you can pick up a bike and pedal off, emotions circle back to haunt you. 

Every accomplished public speaker will tell you they ‘still’ feel nervous before a talk or presentation.  And yet, speak they do, despite feeling nervous.  Some routinely throw up before going on stage.  Some have learned to reframe nervousness as excitement. Nevertheless, nervousness remains, but the response to nervousness has changed. 

Every musician has banked thousands of hours (quite literally) of practise.  And if you believe the 10,000 hour rule (which persists despite being debunked) that is a lot of boredom to have to work through.  They hiked the path through boredom and found mastery.  

Greene suggests that you know you have mastered boredom “when boredom no longer signals the need for distraction, but rather the need for new challenges to conquer.”  Notice how boredom remains, but most crucially, it’s the response to boredom that has changed.

Please don’t be dismayed, you don’t have to trudge through 10,000 hours of misery.  I was once an aspiring musician with remarkably little innate talent.  And though I never achieved mastery despite hours of practise for years, I picked up a lot of strategic byproducts (or gifts) along the way.  The most profound of which was a willingness to take risks for future dreams, however unlikely.  

The path through boredom to mastery is scattered with gifts if you look for them.  And the best part is, those gifts are still there, waiting to be gathered.  Go find them.

Live life, love life, always,
Dr Karen

Life coaching helps you redesign your future, reclaim your enthusiasm and recharge your energy for life.

Three of the saddest words…

Do you have a friend who refuses to offer an opinion, but then complains when a decision is made?  

  • “Where do you want to go for lunch?”  
  • “I don’t care.”  
  • “Okay, how about Mexican?”  
  • “I don’t like Mexican” 
  • “Then maybe Thai?”
  • “Ewe, no.”  

Hmm, thought you didn’t care.  

Indifference impoverishes relationships and fuels apathy.

Indifference imperceptibly undermines our self-respect and festers silently until we no longer have an opinion of our own.
“It doesn’t matter.”   

Indifference sucks joy out of life.
 “I don’t care.” 

“I don’t care.”  These are three of the saddest words ever strung together in a sentence.

It does matter, you do care.  You just don’t want to express an opinion.  Maybe you worry you might offend someone. Maybe you worry about alienating yourself.  What if you offer up an option and it’s shot down? Or even worse, what if your suggestion is accepted and then the other person doesn’t like their meal?

Indifference ignores your own value or the value of someone else.  

Perhaps you are being flexible, just going with the flow, cooperating.  No.  We are negating ourselves, failing to recognize our own worth, devaluing our importance.   Indifference hurts. 

I wonder what fuels this indifference.  Social media drivel?  Political correctness?  Social isolation?  Too much affluence?  Social uncertainty?  Entitlement?  I truly don’t know.

I do know that it takes courage to voice an opinion that is unpopular. 

I once defended abstinence as a choice that should be included in a discussion with teens about safe sex.  I was singled out as unrealistic – teens are going to have sex, so they need to learn how to protect themselves from infection and/or prevent an unplanned pregnancy.  Hmm.  Abstinence does both of those.  Surely it could be included in the discussion.  I digress.

Indifference, what can be done about it?  

The opposite of indifference is caring.  “I do care.”  What if it’s okay to express your opinion?   “I’d prefer a burger for lunch.”  It doesn’t mean you are right and they are wrong.  What if it’s okay for the other person to have their own opinion too?  It doesn’t mean you have to be stubborn and insist upon burgers with your vegan friends.  

Express your opinion.  Let people get to know you a little bit better.  Maybe they get to know the authentic you.  Take a risk.  Be brave.  

Enrich your life – replace indifference with caring.  Give yourself permission to express your opinion.  Have the courage to be you!  The authentic you.  

And authenticity goes a long way to making the world a better place.

Goals and Becoming

I am so guilty of setting goals, devising and implementing a plan, and then, just before I get close to the end zone, I move the goalposts.  

Or equally annoying, I achieve my goal, and instead of being over the moon with celebration, I minimize the achievement… “Yes, but it was easy.”  “Yes I know, but…” “Anyone can do…” 

It’s a sure-fire way to ensure I never reach a goal.  She’s a very crafty sneak, my inner critic.  

And if my inner critic is not busy moving the goalposts, she’s busy blurring the endzone, making the goal so vague it’s meaningless.  Lose weight.  Get fit.  Write.  How much weight? Ten pounds or 100? How fit? As in strong? Or cardio? Write what? A note? A blog? A book?  By tomorrow, next week, or next year?

This is self-sabotage at its sneakiest and craftiest.  Move the goalposts, blur the end zone and/or minimize the achievement.   

And then my fickle inner critic complains about my indecision and inconsistency, then rants on about my lack of commitment. 

If like me, you have an equally obnoxious inner critic, congratulations, you have a human brain and it’s working beautifully.

Our brain does this constantly.  It makes vague sweeping statements that are not in the least bit helpful and then complains when we fail to grasp the nebulous, ill defined moving target.  Our brain predicts the worst and under-estimates our chance of success, all in the name of keeping us safe from danger. 

Enough already, I am on to you, my dear inner critic! 

Shall we try another approach?  

What is the point of setting goals anyway?  We set goals because we wish to achieve some end point that we believe would make our lives better.  Right?  


As counter-intuitive as it seems, goals are not about the achieving, they are about who you become along the way.  No matter what the goal – to get out of bed to exercise, lose 20 pounds, read a book per month – set that goal to serve you.  Become the person who exercises everyday.  Become someone who does not eat unless hungry.  Become a reading fanatic. 

When setting a goal, ask yourself, who do I want to become? Imagine that person as vividly as possible.  What does she think?  “Of course I can do this.”  “I will succeed, it just takes time.” “Doing ‘x’ is a lot like self love.”  How does she feel? Motivated.  Encouraged. Inspired. How does she spend her time?  Rather than muttering self defeating thoughts to yourself, you’re feeling encouraged and get yourself out of bed even though it’s cold and dark outside.  Or you pass on the facebook scrolling, and open that bedside reading you’ve been putting off.  And you celebrate the smallest step toward that accomplishment.

Shift the focus of your goal.  Focus on who you want to become, not what you want to do.  Then, watch the magic unfold.   

You get to succeed every single day as you move closer to who you are becoming.  There is no competition with others.  This is about you becoming a better version of yourself.  

Discover and become more of who you already are.  Now that, is a goal worth pursuing.


Of Spiders and Dreams

I am going to fess up, I am a self-help-book junkie.  I read a ton of stuff, I listen to audio books and I journal my thoughts regularly.  And I am frustrated by my turtle paced trudging through the river of misery – ah that is, change.  I may have spent the last 50 years forming the neuro-circuitry that makes me me, but I don’t want to spend the next 50 years trying to undo it.  Can we just skip to the future me I want me to be please?  But then, most annoyingly, I find it virtually impossible to define who that future me is.  It’s a paradoxical quagmire!


In fact, I am learning, as I coach some incredibly brilliant ladies, this challenge to dream beyond our current perceived realities is not an uncommon problem.  All five year olds know how to dream.  Even teens are dreaming vividly (and somewhat recklessly at times!) But somewhere along the line of life, we forgot how to dream.  And I am going to – correctly or incorrectly – place the blame on our primitive brain.   That primitive brain, programmed to survive in an eat-or-be-eaten environment with its change-lethal default setting, is very effectively keeping us safe and secure, deeply entrenched in the familiar!

Our primitive brain, the house-keeping part of our brain that keeps us alive – heart beating, regular breathing, digestion and absorption of our food etc., LOVES ‘the familiar’, even when ‘the familiar’ is not serving us well in the long term.  So, change is hard.  We are fighting some seriously intense, deeply ingrained, brain biology!  Hard wired into our brains since the dawn of time, the change lethal default setting kept us alive in some pretty hostile situations.  Well done primitive brain!  But, we no longer live in those hostile situations and that change-lethal default is out of date!


We can venture out and dream, despite the change lethal default setting, but it’s not easy.  We must dare greatly, take some risks and be proactive.  We must cross the river of misery/change even when we cannot envision the other side.

The woman who decided that sharing dark, damp and cold caves with spiders and other little critters was unacceptable, dared greatly and started a ripple, the result of which she could not have imagined.  She dreamed of a warm, dry and bug free home.  Centuries later, we have air-conditioned luxury condos!

What if we could imagine beyond warm and bug free?  To dream about luxury condos instead? Go ahead dare to dream, vividly and somewhat recklessly.  We CAN venture out of the cave and dream.   Our primitive brain will not be pleased but venture out anyway.

Dare to dream.  Then dare to step into the river of misery/change.  Then, act as though your dream is non-negotiable and watch the magic happen!

Consistency – the solution to hard.

Nothing is hard when you do it with consistency.

How is that for an opening thought?  Seriously, think about it, any activity you currently do consistently is not hard.   At least it’s not hard now.  It may have been when it was first introduced, but the hard bit has been long forgotten.  

That was my experience with my cycling challenge. Cycling was something I wanted to do, but did not do except sporadically.

But, I now consistently cycle every morning.  Every morning I get up, let the dog out, change into my cycling clothes, let the dog in, feed the dog, grab my water and head to the basement.  Thirty – 60 minutes later I emerge, sweat dripping off my nose.  

How did I create this consistency?  Initially I had an accountability partner, whom I texted for 4 days, letting her know the deed was done.  And she never even texted me back. 

I started with an utterly doable expectation – 20 minutes easy pedaling.  It didn’t have to pedal fast or hard.  I just had to make the pedals go round and round for 20 minutes.  I listened to my favourite music.  Sometimes I read a book.

When done, I checked the calendar and started counting consecutive days.  At some point I set an end point completely arbitrarily at 120 days. 

By 30 days, Hmm… this is weird, it’s working. And I started to ponder why.  Why is this working, this time? What’s different?  Best answer I could muster was ‘the counting.’  So I kept right on counting.  I started to increase the duration and effort required.  I started to notice some definition in my leg muscles.  I started to notice my breathing and heart rate recovered faster.  Wouldn’t you know it? I was getting fit…  

And as of now, I’ve lost count of days cycling but have a tally of 9 days missed.  Cycling, it’s just what I do now.  

Consistency is amazing.

Consistency is powerful.

Consistency is the solution to ‘hard.’

Nothing is hard when you do it consistently.  It’s getting the consistency that’s a bit tricky.  

What did I do to get there?  I started at utterly doable. I made it specific.  I noticed the changes I was creating.   I rewarded myself (who knew a check and counting would be sufficient?) 

Now I simply do it, it is my routine.  To miss it feels wrong.  

So weird. And so wonderful.  


Attention – more precious than time or money

There is so much noise in the world – Facebook, Instagram, Podcasts, TV, the news, the fake news, youtube.  We are bombarded.  So.  Much. Noise.  And it’s totally and utterly addictive.  And, for the most part, totally and utterly useless.

When there are so many things vying for our attention we fail to pay attention to the activities and relationships that matter to us.  

This skill – to pay attention – is being lost, replaced with boredom and rapidly remedied with distraction.  

Distraction, it’s insidious and rampant in our modern day, device-driven and device-dependent society.  Not wanting to miss anything, we miss everything.

It happened to me.  After leaving medicine, my attention lost its primary focus.  I was directionless and restless.  And as my burnout slowly lifted, boredom silently filled the void.  And boredom was not something I was familiar with. I now refer to that life chapter as the post medicine void, and back then, distraction filled the void with velcro vengeance.  

Distraction is boredom’s antidote and it is absolutely everywhere.  We carry it with us to be sure we don’t miss anything.  Scrolling Facebook, while you stand in the lengthy socially distanced grocery lines, skimming the headlines or the memes, responding with an emoji or a prefabricated predicted text, there is no thinking required.  None.

  • Boredom is not the scourge of society.  It doesn’t need an antidote.  
  • Boredom allows our brain to wander and to wonder.  
  • Boredom makes room for day dreams.  
  • Boredom opens the door to our creativity and our imagination.  

Over the years, I have been edging out distractions, filling the post medicine void with friends and family time; cello; reading; writing; blogging; coaching; cycling; stretching and more.

I am intentionally directing my attention toward the activities and relationships I have deemed important.  

My attention is my most valuable asset.  What a great thought to feed to your brain.  

Make it a deeply held, core personal belief.  

Because when you believe your attention is your most valuable asset, then your attention becomes the most precious gift you can give to someone.  

It’s more valuable than time.

It’s more valuable than money.

And it’s certainly more important than scrolling will ever be.

  • A comment rather than an emoji…  Precious.
  • A phone call rather than a text… Precious.
  • A handwritten note rather than an email… Precious.
  • A conversation rather than watching TV…  Precious.
  • Giving your attention, your most precious asset, to the activities and relationships you deem important…  Absolutely priceless.  

Nothing will impact the quality of your life or your future more.  Guaranteed.

What really matters in life?

I’ve been interested in living long and well for many years.  Longevity runs in my family, but so does dementia and it is by far my preference to live long and well with my memories intact.  

In my quest to keep my mind sharp for as long as possible, I routinely listen to The Drive Podcast, with host Dr Peter Attia, a self-admitted, over-the-top-in-everything-he-does type of guy.   

He currently hyper-focuses his over-the-topness on understanding the factors that impact longevity.  (If you decide to listen to his podcast, be forewarned, they are lengthy and full of med-speak.  I love it – he speaks my language.)

The first time I heard his brilliant concept – The Centenarian Olympics – I stopped what I was doing and listened, pen in hand, excitedly waiting for a set of criteria.  The Centenarian Olympics, fab idea, what are the activities?  What do I need to do?  But, to my immense disappointment, no answer was offered up. 

But no answer was offered up for good reason –  it’s a phenomenon that is totally unique to the individual.  What I want to be able to do at 100, is likely quite different from what you might want to be able to do at 100.  

The centenarian olympics focus on strength and exercise (it is an olympics after all) mainly because when it comes to aging, in most individuals the body fails first.  He asks two great questions we could all ponder to our longevity advantage.

  1. If I live to 100, what do I physically have to be able to do to be satisfied with my life? and 
  2. What are the physical tasks that would approximate those things? 

I love this approach because it starts with the premise ‘to be satisfied with my life.’  How important is that to figure out?  

At 60 something, I’m already experiencing some of ‘the body fails first’ realities – broken bones, muscle loss, and achy joints to name a few.  

Assuming I want to live to 100, what do I want to be able to do to be satisfied with my life when I get there?  

  • I want to be able to listen to music and participate in conversations.  
  • I want to be able to play my cello, however poorly.  
  • I want to be able to get up off the couch (if not the floor) without assistance.  
  • I want to be able to walk outside, year round, without fear of falling.  
  • I want to be able to laugh with friends of 60 plus years.  
  • I want to be able to read books and get lost in thought.  
  • I want to be able to live independently, though I will let someone else do the cooking, cleaning and yard work.

To the second question, what do I have to be able to do to approximate those tasks?  Hmm.  Harder question.  For starters, I should check my hearing, cause I feel like I’m already missing out on conversations, and I will definitely need a better sound system. 

Strength – wise, I need to have the arm, wrist and grip strength to play cello, the leg strength to get up off the floor, and the core strength and balance to walk in the snow. 

I will need to keep connections with my friends and encourage them to live for another 30 or so years along with me. 

I will need to keep reading and writing and thinking.  

So you can see why there is not a universal task list for the centenarian olympics.  It’s about you figuring out what is important for you so that you can start to do whatever it is you need to do now, so that you can do whatever it is you want to do later.  

Having said that, and insist upon this from yourself – whatever it is you need to do now, LOVE it and ENJOY it.  Because, ultimately, it is the journey to 100 that matters.

Improve your cardiovascular fitness, why bother?

Ok let’s get a little sciency about cardiovascular fitness.  It’s something we all talk about but what is it actually?  It’s the ability of the heart, lungs and blood vessels to efficiently supply oxygenated blood to your muscles as you exercise and technically, also when you are just lazing about.  

Cardiovascular fitness is measured by something called VO2max.  VO2 max (Volume of oxygen – O2, maximum) is a number calculated in an exercise lab and measures the amount of oxygen you use while you run on a treadmill.  I imagine it’s a really miserable test since your nose is plugged and you breathe through a tube taped in place in your mouth as you stumble along as fast as you can.  All this to make sure they accurately measure oxygen-in and carbon dioxide-out.  Then with some fancy mathematics the lab crew can calculate how much oxygen you burn, and from that infer how much energy you burn.  

Suffice it to say, VO2max is a measure of your cardiovascular fitness.

In a paper published in 2018, looking at the association between cardiovascular fitness (as measured by VO2max) and death, researchers were trying to understand if habitual vigorous exercise is bad for you as you get older.  Apparently, it has been observed that if you overdo it with cardiovascular exercise (like running or cycling) as you age, you can over-stress your heart and create a multitude of problems for yourself.  Fortunately, these nasties of the heart are reversible, presumably if you stop exercising. 

Now, I am interested in this because I cycle daily. I get my heart a-pumping, my brow a-sweating and my lungs a-puffing for a minimum of 30 minutes every morning.  I do this because I believe it’s good for my brain.  But am I sacrificing my heart?  

This particular study looked at the VO2max of 122,000 individuals with an average age of 53y and their all cause mortality over one decade.  That is, the risk of dying from something over 10 years as compared to others based on cardiovascular fitness.  Individuals were grouped, based on their VO2max by percentile as low (<25th percentile), below average (25th – 50th), above average (50th – 75th), high (75th – 97th) or elite (>97th).  To get a sense of their grouping the low group had a BMI of 31.7 (couch potato*); below average 29.8 (walk a bit*); above average, 28.0 (walk more than a bit*); high, 26.2 (run occasionally*); and elite 24.5 (run often*).  (*Truthfully I made up these descriptions to make it easier to understand.)  

Recall that BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.  Doctors use it to determine if you are thin, or obese or somewhere inbetween.  A normal BMI is between 18.5 – 24.9.  So only the elite group in this study sqeaked into the normal weight range, while everyone else was either overweight or obese.  They also looked at other comorbidities, including diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, smoking and death.  But for the sake of this blog, I only included the total number of individuals in each percentile group, BMI and number of deaths and percentage deaths..

Below is a table showing the data in percentages for ease of comparison.

CVF %ile<25th25th – 50th50th – 75th75th – 97th>97th
Number participants29,18127,17231, 89730,1873,570
BMI (average)


(couch potato)


(walk a bit)


(walk more than a bit)


(run occasionally)


(run often)

Number deaths over 10 years6,9042,8882,3401,41293
% Deaths23.710.

Over the course of 10 years, individuals with LOW cardiovascular fitness have 23.7% risk of dying; whereas the ELITE cardiovascular fitness individuals have a 2.6% risk of dying.  

So what does this mean?  

It means those with poor cardiovascular fitness have a 10 times greater risk of dying than those with robust cardiovascular fitness. TEN times greater risk of dying.

After some really fancy statistics and number crunching, the researchers conclude “Cardiovascular fitness is inversely associated with long-term mortality with no observed upper limit of benefit.” Which means – as cardiovascular fitness goes up, your chance of dying goes down and you can’t over do it.  

The researchers go on to suggest… “Health care professionals should encourage patients to achieve and maintain high levels of fitness.”  

Well duh.  Of course some thin dude with a normal BMI running on a treadmill with their nose plugged is going to perform better than another with a BMI over 31, who rarely, if ever, steps on a treadmill let alone run with his nose plugged.  

Is this really a fair comparison?  Perhaps not. 

What is truly revealing about this study is the difference between the low group and the below average group.  The couch-potato people compared to the walk-a-bit people.  There is a MASSIVE improvement.  Death in the low group is 23.7%,whereas death in the below average group is 10.6%.  The risk of death over a decade is more than cut in half, simply by getting up off the couch and walking consistently.  Even better, if you walk more than a bit, you can decrease that risk even further to 7.3%.

So, just a little bit of habitual cardiovascular exercise, cuts your risk of death over a decade by more than half.  HALF!  Incredible right?  No marathon required.  No expensive gym memberships required.  Just go for a walk daily. 

Whew.  I can continue my daily cycling and not sacrifice my heart while I cut my risk of dying in the next 10 years in half, if not more as I get fitter and fitter.  BOOM.  Not only will your brain thank you, your heart and lungs will cheerily participate in your quest for longevity.