What’s Your Fitness Age?

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?

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5 Responses to What’s Your Fitness Age?

  1. Halyna says:

    I took the test, answered truthfully and came out with the age of a 45 yr old. Not bad. If I changed my exercise pattern to daily exercise (in both cases said I breathe only slightly harder and perspire a little) would lower my age to 40, raise my VO2 max by two points. Must ponder whether worth the effort!

    • Harry says:

      The lower the score, the longer the period of life that’s active and healthy. Someone 72 whose fitness age is 45 is not going to gain another 27 years, live to 99 – although they might. What they may gain is more active years.

  2. Neale Sweet says:

    I took the Fitness Age test with the result that my fitness age is 40 (vs 72 chronological). Having recently had a bout of atrial fibrillation, which is now controlled by medication and a cardioversion procedure, it is reassuring to know that my fitness age is as low as it is. I attribute my low fitness age to lifelong exercise and the motivation supplied by your book Fitness Beyond 50. The link to CERG/NTU is also very motivational as well as a source of good information. Intuitively it seems to me that another factor to consider is one’s emotional/spiritual age (if there is such a thing). By that I mean that being active mentally and spiritually (not necessarily religiously) probably plays a role in one’s overall health. Maintaining a good level of curiosity is useful in this regard.

      • Harry says:

        I agree, Neale, other factors contribute to overall health, lots of research to back that up. Being active socially, spiritually and mentally are all important. One indicator in my view is how much time someone spends asking questions and listening to others versus focusing on themselves. We learn and grow a lot more that way.

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