What Is Your Fitness Age?

Banner from the World Fitness Level website, where you can find the online fitness age calculator.

I love this idea of our age versus our “fitness age.” In this fascinating article, CBC news reports that older athletes age in fitness terms is “astounding.” The news is this:

Super-fit participants in the National Senior Games show a fitness age up to 25 years younger than their chronological age thanks to their cardiovascular health, says a U.S. doctor who took to Facebook with the findings to inspire people of all abilities.

Imagine being 25 years younger than your chronological age in fitness terms. It’s kind of amazing and something to aspire to.

You can use this on-line calculator to calculate your fitness age. The results might surprise you. The average age of participants in the Senior Games is 68. But the average fitness age of the participants is 43.

Dr. Pamela Peeke, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland who started running at age 40, is a triathlete involved in the Games, which start Friday in Minnesota.

Fellow researcher Ulrik Wisloff at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim designed the calculator and has published research based on findings in Norwegians. When Peeke learned of the calculator, she jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with Wisloff on another group: competitors at the National Senior Games.

What does the on-line calculator do?

The online calculator asks people to provide information such as their age, city, ethnicity, how often they work out and how hard, as well as resting and maximum heart rates to estimate cardiovascular fitness level or “fitness age.”

The good news is that embarking on a fitness program can, in a very real sense, make us younger. It’s hard not to be intrigued by the calculator. I plugged in my info: all sorts of data from my age, sex, and highest level of education to my maximum and resting heart rates.

According to the fitness calculator, depending on how much I exert myself, my fitness comes in at the fitness of an average “under 20 year old” or an average 29 year old. I actually don’t think they have nuanced enough choices for exertion, because “little hard breathing or sweating” doesn’t get it right (I work harder than that), but the next hardest option is “I go all out,” which I do, but not all the time. They need a category that accounts for intervals or something.

That said, it’s encouraging to know that my fitness age is somewhere in the twenty-something range. That makes me feel kind of awesome.

What’s your fitness age? If it’s not where you want it to be, I hope you feel encouraged that this is one area where it’s possible to get younger.

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