Tag Archives: personalized activity intelligence

How Much Exercise Prolongs Healthy Life?

I bought a new mountain bike this summer. I already had two perfectly good bicycles in the garage, but there’s nothing like a new toy to get you motivated. Hitting the trails these days involves monitoring my data. I’m interested to test myself using Personalized Activity Intelligence (PAI), a health score that measures cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF).

PAI draws heart rate activity from wearables, such as Fitbit and Apple Watch. It uses that information, along with self-reported data, to guide me toward the most beneficial amount of exercise for my body. Using all that data, the weekly effort I put into physical activity is translated into a single PAI score. Maintaining 100 PAI reduces my risk of cardiovascular disease and early death. I might like to live longer now that I’ve spent EUR2,500 on this new bike….

PAI takes account of my resting and maximum heart rate over a seven-day rolling period, adjusted for exercise intensity to reflect my VO2 max, a measure of CRF. Cycling should increase my heart rate above a threshold, and into the CRF training zone, generating PAI points. Consistently maintaining 100 PAI will derive the health benefits.

PAI requires several weeks of activity data to properly attune to my VO2 max, but my first five rides provide an indication of what’s to come (see Figure below). PAI uses the first ride data to begin calibrating the algorithm to me — the score is irrelevant. My second ride ends abruptly with a puncture and a fall, but by ride four I’m back in the zone, and by ride five back in the woods.

My average heart rate dropped over the first four rides, which suggests that my fitness reserve was decent and that I’ve quickly added some heart health to the equation. Although my average speed was consistent, the effort involved measured by heart rate and, ultimately, the points earned, trend downward.

See also: How to Link Heart Health to Insurance  

It’s clear that longer duration coupled with higher attained heart rate scores more points. I must up my game because the algorithm calibrates to my personal heart effort. With PAI, very low-intensity exercise doesn’t contribute to increased levels of CRF, while fitter people with higher heart rate reserve face a tougher threshold to accumulate PAI points.

Now the PAI algorithm is adjusting to my profile, and I’m discovering the effort required to earn a protective score. I go back out on the bike for ride five and earn 75 points; the maximum possible in one day. This isn’t a surprise. The route is longer and more challenging, and I ride harder because I’m already feeling fitter (see Figure below).

The algorithm will continue to adjust to my exercise behavior over the next few months. As my CRF increases, I will discover that running on a treadmill for 30 minutes is less fun and nets me fewer points. I will find that my daily brisk walking and average of 6,000 steps contribute but do not raise my heart effort enough to strongly influence my CRF. Running and walking will supplement my PAI score, but to score 100 — enough to affect my long-term health and get good value out of this bike — well, that simply requires greater effort.

For further background. read my blog Heart Health – Why Linking It to Insurance Is a Winning Formula.

How to Link Heart Health to Insurance

Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is a measure of the body’s ability to supply oxygen to muscles, including the heart, during sustained levels of exercise. Whether you believe the hype that just sitting around poses a significant health risk, the truth is that most people could do with exercising more.

An inverse association between CRF and mortality is well-established. A recent study of the long-term mortality of physically active adults found the benefit of increased CRF is independent of age, sex, race/ethnicity and comorbidities. Exercise provides numerous health benefits, including reduction in coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke and cancer.

The same study confirms that the greatest chance for survival is associated with the highest aerobic fitness, debunking the notion that exercise benefits plateau quickly or even result in harm. So there really is no excuse for running a bath instead of a mile, or indeed for avoiding any exercise you fancy that increases resting heart rate. This is good news.

But as everyone’s level of cardio-fitness is different, the correct dose of exercise needed to confer any real benefit is less obvious.

That gap in accessible knowledge is why it’s also good news that there has been such progress with Personalized Activity Intelligence (PAI), a health score that measures cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF). PAI helps add years of healthy life through personalized activity engagement and has been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and early death. PAI provides individual guidance on the most beneficial exercise dose by measuring heart beat data and translating it to a PAI Score.

See also: New Efficiencies in Life Insurance  

PAI takes account of resting and maximum heart rates adjusted for exercise intensity and collected over a seven-day rolling period to encourage consistent exercise behavior. Any activity that increases the heart rate above a threshold and into the CRF training zone may generate points, meaning people of all fitness levels can score points from activities they enjoy; whether that’s kayaking down rapids, mowing the lawn or running after the grandkids.

Physical activity can be measured simplistically but without much insight into the physical workload achieved. PAI, however, measures heart rate and uses an algorithm that calibrates to an individual’s heart effort and is helpful in creating personalized programs for sustained physical activity. PAI has shown the positive impact that sustained physical activity has on heart health and represents a more effective and realistic approach than setting daily step or exercise targets.

The guidance indicates when the intensity of exercise does not contribute to increased levels of CRF or when fitter people with higher heart rate reserve (the difference between resting heart rate and maximum heart rate, which is used to calculate the optimal cardiorespiratory fitness level in aerobic exercise) need to challenge themselves more.

Life and critical illness products do an amazing job protecting policyholders from financial loss but until now have provided little practical help in safeguarding customers’ health. We believe PAI has the potential to motivate behavioral change, helping policyholders to become more physically active and stick to it, while reducing their risk of disease and premature death. As insurance seeks to shift its emphasis from protection to prevention, this winning formula is possibly some of the best news yet.

See also: Intersection of Tech and Holistic Health  

Hear more about the science behind PAI from inventor Ulrik Wisløff, professor at NTNU and head of the Cardiac Exercise Research Group, in this short interview:

To find out more, contact Ross Campbell.