16 Aug 2016
Your fitness age is determined primarily by a measure of cardiovascular endurance, and a new study suggests it is a better predictor of longevity than our chronological age plus unlike our actual age, our fitness age can decrease.
Calculated by your VO2max, a measure of your body’s ability to take in and utilise oxygen (precise measurement requires high-tech treadmill testing), your fitness age can be compared with other people of the same age providing you with an insight as to whether your fitness age is older or younger than your actual age so for example if your VO2max is below average for your age group, your fitness age is older than your actual age. However if you fare well in your results, you could actually be a 50 year old man with a much younger fitness age. Once you do know your fitness age, it can be useful – and whilst it might be confronting, it can help you turn your fitness age around.
The real question is whether your fitness age has any significance in relation to longevity.
Fitness age testing was developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology by researchers specializing in fitness and its correlation to wellness in life. Without being able to use the precise high-tech measurement system, these scientific experts developed a much easier method for determining one’s fitness age by enlisting 5,000 participants aged between 20 and 90 and measured their aerobic ability with treadmill testing and health factors including waist size, heart rate and exercise habits. Combining mathematical and computer science they were able to estimate an approximate VO2max for each person. Unfortunately this data didn’t yield any relation between fitness age and longer life expectancy.
However in a more recent study published this year in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, scientists used the data of more than 55,000 adults that had participated in comprehensive health questionnaires dating back to the 1980s and used the answers to approximate each person’s individual VO2max and thus, their fitness age. Then referring to death records it indicated that people whose calculated VO2max was 85% or more below the average for their age – that their fitness age was detrimentally above their age years – had more than an 80% higher chance of dying earlier than those with fitness ages that were the same or younger than their age. The study results demonstrated that fitness age might be able to predict a person’s risk of earlier death better than traditional risk such as being overweight or a smoker.
More- interestingly, these scientists used the data from their new study to refine and expand an online calculator for ascertaining a fitness age with an updated version recently going live and requires only a few simple answers such as age, sex, waist circumference and exercise habits.
As detailed earlier, your fitness age can be reversed and Professor Ulrik Wisloff at the K.G. Jebsen Center for Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who led the study, offers the advice of “just exercise” for those with a fitness age exceeding their age.
Almost any type and amount of exercise can reduce your fitness age to increase your lifespan – just sit less and move more!
There are many health and fitness age calculators available to give us an insight into what shape we are really in and the impact of our lifestyles on our fitness age. No matter how you go there are lots of easy ways to improve your fitness age and you can find them here. It is always important to remember a health and age fitness test is designed to give you an overall idea of your fitness age status and a general indication of how your lifestyle effects your result. It shouldn’t be considered a medical diagnostic or a substitute for medical advice.
Web sources: www.well.blogs.nytimes.com
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