What Is Fitness Age And Why You Should Care


Age is just not a number anymore and can indicate the status of your health and well-being. The age number that people usually refer to is called the chronological age, basically the number of years you have lived. Your biological age, however, is based on the age of your body’s systems and depends on your lifestyle choices like exercise, diet, stress, sleep, and more.

What Is Fitness Age

While these two measures of age have been around for some time, a new age measure is now making its way into the health circles and it’s called fitness age. Fitness age is based on the concept of VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen you can take in while exercising.

Your VO2 max can be used as a measure of cardiovascular endurance; if yours is below average compared to other people your age, it means your fitness age is actually greater than your chronological age. On the other hand, a better-than-average VO2 max could mean your fitness age is younger than your age in years. The good thing about your fitness age is that you can actually work towards getting younger.

How Fitness Age Was Determined

While VO2 max is the basis to find out your fitness age, the main issue with this form of calculation is that most people do not know their VO2 max. Finding out your VO2 max typically requires high-tech testing on a treadmill.

This is why Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology developed an algorithm based on the aerobic capacity, waist circumferences, heart rate, and exercise habits of nearly 5,000 people. This has yielded a method for estimating, quite accurately, a person’s VO2 max.

The researchers also wanted to check the relationship between fitness age and lifespan. They analyzed the VO2 max, fitness age, and chronological age of more than 55,000 adults and found a strong association. Those with the worst readings for VO2 max had an 82 percent higher risk of dying prematurely than those whose fitness age was the same as, or lower than, their chronological age.

According to the researchers, fitness age may predict premature death better than risk factors like being overweight, having high blood pressure or smoking.

Why You Should Know Your Fitness Age

To understand the impact of fitness age, Dr. Pamela Peeke, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, and Ulrik Wisloff, professor at the K.G. Jebsen Center for Exercise in Medicine at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who lead the study, worked together to determine how lifestyle affects fitness age.

They measured the fitness ages of athletes competing in the National Senior Games and the older athletes routinely measured decades younger than their chronological ages. The fitness ages of more than 4,200 senior athletes that were measured averaged at 43 while the average chronological age was 68.

A majority of the athletes at the Senior Games didn’t begin serious training until quite late in life and most of the senior Olympians returned to or began exercising regularly in middle age or beyond. This clearly means that it’s possible to significantly lower your fitness age even if you get a late start.

There are online calculators to help you determine your fitness age but putting a few simple measurements. But the important thing to note is that it’s never too late to start working on your fitness level.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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