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Find Your Fitness Age with These Five Measurements


Being physically fit is obviously an important facet of overall health, but did you know that your fitness level has an effect on aging as well? You could be 30, overweight and sedentary and the 60 year old runner down the street is actually in many ways “younger” than you are. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have come up with a fitness calculator to see where you fall today, and where to set personal goals so that you can improve your fitness age.

Researchers conducted tests on about 4,600 Norwegians between the ages of 20 and 90 years, putting them through rigorous tests of physical fitness. Each ran on a treadmill to the point of exhaustion and had their maximum oxygen intake (known as VO2 Max) measured. This assesses how well oxygen is transferred to cells and predicts overall fitness age.

The VO2 Max test is a reliable method for determining fitness age, however, impractical for use in everyday life. So the team, led by Dr. Ulrik Wisloff, drilled down to five metrics that would come up with the same result. These are:
• Resting Heart Rate
• Waistline Measurement
• Sex
• Exercise Level and Intensity
• Age

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Certain portions of the above equation are obviously not controllable (sex and age). However, by improving resting heart rate, waistline measurement, and increasing exercise level and intensity, one could improve his fitness age.

For example, a 45-year-old man weighing 180# with a 34-inch waistline and a resting heart rate of 72 who exercises only one to two days per week has the fitness age of a 48-year-old. However, he can improve significantly by exercising more and cutting a few inches from his waist.

How to complete the Fitness Calculator:
Before getting started, do the following:
• Measure resting heart rate: Either use a heart-rate monitor or sit quietly for 10 minutes, find your pulse, and count for 30 seconds. Multiply this by 2.
• Measure your waistline, using a measuring tape around your middle at the level of your navel.
Visit: http://www.ntnu.edu/cerg/vo2max to enter your values and find your fitness age.

How to improve your fitness level
The team at NTNU have come up with a seven-week exercise program that can help you improve your fitness level. Each day starts with a 10-minute warm-up, and then leads the participant through a high-intensity workout specifically designed to increase fitness. The best news – each workout is only about 20 minutes long. At the end of the seven weeks, retest using the fitness calculator online, or download the app (called VO2cal) to your Apple device (ipad, iphone).

Source: Nes B, Janszky I, Vatten L. Estimating VO2 peak from a non-exercise prediction model: the HUNT Study, Norway. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2013.
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)