Years ago a speaker at a conference asked, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” While an interesting question, there’s nothing scientific about the answer, likely more what age we would like to be.
The Cardiac Exercise Research Group in Norway has asked a more interesting question: “What’s your fitness age?” It has a database of many thousands it’s tested to determine a good approximation of that number. You can access the test at ntnu.edu/cerg/vo2max, or Google “fitness age.”
The test asks you to input data such as age, height, weight, waist circumference, amount of exercise weekly, resting heart rate, etc. Based upon that data it will provide you with an estimate of your fitness age and your VO2Max, which is the gold standard of fitness. It’s a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen you can use.
Here’s my advice: take the test, entering honest data. The test will provide information to help you estimate your maximum and resting heart rates, if you don’t know. See what the results are and write them down.
Then, take the test again, entering not where you are today but where you would like to be. For example, if your waist circumference is 38 inches and you would like to be 34 inches, use that number. If you exercise modestly but would like to exercise vigorously at least three days a week, use your revised number. If you currently weigh 210 pounds but would like to weigh 180, go for it.
Maybe the question to ask before taking the test a second time is, “Where can I be in a year if I start a regular exercise and healthy eating lifestyle?
While I don’t know what your individual results will be, I can tell you that many seniors who are very fit test 20 or more years younger. One friend of mine, age 71, has been an active exerciser his entire life; his recently measured fitness age was 39.
Let’s say your revised fitness age is 15 years younger. The implication is that the “revised you” might have an additional 15 years of active, healthy life versus the “current you.”
That leads to the last question: “Am I willing to make lifestyle changes that may add 15 years or more to my active, healthy lifespan?