We have probably all used some expression about being “only as old as you feel” or know someone who is “young at heart” or my favorite that “you do have to grow older, but you do not have to grow up.” Well you get where I am going. It is a medical fact that chronological age is not a truly accurate assessment of how well a person really is. If you are a caregiver for an older loved one, you may at times would like to know how well they really are, not just how well they may be cared for by their provider. Some researchers in Norway have come up with a way to calculate a person’s fitness age, and this may be one that caregivers and older adults may both want to know.
Fitness experts for a long time have known that one of the best ways to measure fitness is to measure an athlete’s peak oxygen intake. To do that they run that athlete to their maximum exertion and then measure their VO2 max, or how effectively the body is delivering oxygen to the cells. In many big clinical studies, this has proved to be a pretty good predictor of how long a person may be expected to live. Well, not too many of us have access to the apparatus to measure our peak oxygen intake, so these Norwegian researchers found a reasonable alternative for estimating how old a person’s health is using some measures that we all can record.
First, the researchers measured the real peak oxygen intake of nearly 5,000 people whose ages ranged from 20 years old to 90. They also took a lot of other measurements and ultimately found that five really basic measurements do a very reliable job of predicting the fitness that peak oxygen intake measured. The five include:
- calendar age
- waist measurement
- resting pulse; and
- frequency and intensity of regular exercise.
For that last item, they have a brief check list for you to approximate the rigor of your weekly fitness routine, and for resting pulse, just find a quiet place and count your pulse for 30 seconds and then multiply times two. To let their algorithm tell you what your or your older loved one’s fitness age is, just go to http://www.ntnu.edu/cerg/vo2max and plug in the numbers.
No one can control their gender or their birthdays, but the exercise part and the waistline part are controllable. So, this is a way not only to find your “real age,” but also to take years off that number. Good luck on that and Happy Birthdays.