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Your Fitness Age

Lowering your fitness age usually gives you a year or two longer of life, and a reduced risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease.

You have a set birthday. You don’t have a set fitness age. If you are physically healthy, then your fitness age is likely to be less than your chronological age.

What’s a fitness age? It was developed in Trondheim by some scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. They collected data on approximately 5,000 people and, from that, developed an algorithm to calculate anyone’s fitness age.

After the algorithm had been developed, it was applied to more than 4,000 Senior Olympians. All of them were over the age of 50. The average age for these Senior Olympians was 68, but their average fitness age was much lower at 43. The researchers thought they might see a difference of 15 years, but they did not expect to see a 25-year difference.

Fitness age does not present a complete picture of how fit you are. Mostly, it tells you whether you are aerobically fit. In order to get a complete picture you would have to consider other things such as your balance, how strong you are (upper body and lower body), your flexibility, and your mobility. Add in core endurance, cardio, and your overall health risk, and you would have a pretty good understanding of just how healthy you really are.

Despite that reality, fitness age is still a good place to start, and a lower fitness age means a higher quality of life, which translates into being able to do more things without getting exhausted. Most people wouldn’t mind growing old, but they don’t want to live into old age if they are going to be weak and useless. After all, nobody wants to keep a wheelchair or a bed warm for close to 24 hours a day, and nobody wants to develop chronic and expensive diseases, either.

When does your body start to deteriorate? For most people, strength begins to diminish at about age 30. The process begins to speed up around the time you turn 50, and when you reach your 80th birthday, you may have lost more than 40 percent of your strength. It’s a gradual process, of course, which means that even though you are getting weaker over time, you might not realize it. You might feel fine even though you aren’t.

To calculate your fitness age, it’s necessary to know the following:

  • VO2 max is a term that refers to breathing at maximum capacity. In other words, it is measured by the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use when you exercise as hard as you can. The higher it is, the fitter you are.
  • How often, and how hard, you exercise.
  • Resting and maximum heart rates.
  • Waistline measurement.
  • You can calculate your fitness age at www.worldfitnesslevel.org. One strategy you might try is to visit this website every three to four months and see how you are doing.

    Lowering your fitness age usually gives you a year or two longer of life, and a reduced risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease.

    What can you do to become healthier?

  • If you haven’t been exercising for a while, go see a physician first and make sure your plans are sensible.
  • Start slow. One of the easiest ways is to start by increasing the number of steps you take each day. Your first goal might be to get up to 10,000 steps. If you don’t want to track the number of steps you take, then start walking or doing some other kind of physical activity and work up to 30 minutes a day, five or six days a week.
  • Change up the intensity. You are going to become accustomed to more exercise, so you need to challenge yourself. Not only will it help you become stronger, it will also help you stay interested. Increased intensity is the most efficient way to reduce body fat, and as your body fat decreases, so should your waist measurement. Follow a challenging day with an easier one to reduce the chance of getting injured. The key is to allow your body time to become used to the new routine.
  • Add strength training. You should work on muscle strength two or three times a week. Planks, squats, and push-ups are a good place to start.
  • If you know you are weak in a particular area, it makes sense to focus on those areas and see what you can do to become stronger. That probably means making different food choices or reducing portion sizes; it certainly means exercising more regularly and working to increase the intensity; and it may also involve doing exercises to improve your flexibility and sense of balance. Improving your aerobic capacity is important, too.

    What’s the payoff? Your quality of life will improve and you are likely to live a longer, healthier, more active life.