What’s Your Fitness Age?

Birthdays begin as pure celebration, but as time progresses people resent the implications of growing a year older. While there is no fountain of youth, and Picard has yet to discover the Ba’ku, it is possible to reverse the affects of unhealthy habits we obtain over the years. Fitness age, a term developed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, is the distillation of your habits on your overall life expectancy. Essentially, if it is lower than your actual age, you’re healthier than the general population at your age; if it is higher, well then you have some work to do.

I strongly recommend checking it out here: World Fitness Level

My fitness age back in January landed me somewhere around the mid-40’s (yes, really). I have since shaved off two decades off that number to have a fitness age of under 20 (due to study constraints, mainly sample sizes of people under that age, the university does not try to pinpoint the exact age).

It relies upon weight, height, age, waste circumference, maximum heart rate and resting heart rate, among other factors. The real fun part is next: VO2 Max is then calculated to determine your maximum potential to process oxygen (the more accurate test is done on a bike in a lab for a price). This measurement was made famous by high endurance athletes, most notably those competing in professional cycling. Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour De France winner, and its first British champion, is probably the most likely of the current top contenders to have actually raced clean. His successor on Team Sky, and the 2013 Tour De France winner, Chris Froome, is much harder to believe, given his super-human levels of ascension during the most grueling mountain stages. Bradley is therefore someone view worthy to reference, especially given his outward disdain for cheating and his own fallible performances over the years.

Wiggins has a VO2 Max somewhere in the mid-70’s, which suggests a terrific, but not supernatural, ability to feed his body the oxygen it needs at its peak performance. At 35, Wiggins clocked in with a fitness age of under 20 (some ballparked it at 16). My current VO2 Max is 57, but six years ago, when I was in peak shape, I estimate that I landed at 67. That was without interval training.

Come late July or early August of this year, based upon this same information and my current training program, I should hit a VO2 Max of 65. The wild card will be my Resting Heart Rate. I have always had a low resting heart rate, and right now it is at 52 (even at my unhealthiest this past January, I would rarely see it higher than 58bpm). Spring semester of my sophomore year in college, my resting heart rate was consistently between 44 and 46 beats per minute. My estimate for this coming July / August time frame is based on a 50bpm resting heart rate, which I have hit intermittently recently. I think that estimate is conservative, and I hope that there will be further gains, but given that I am no longer in the coveted prime years (18-25) I can expect a reduction in overall potential of about 1% a year. The same goes with my maximum heart rate, as our hearts slowly decrease their capacity over time.

I have no idea whether I squandered my absolute potential at this point, but I think I have a chance over the next several months to get as close as possible. I regret the fact that for three years (age 23 through 25) I allowed myself to be lazy and have the fitness age equivalent to a person in his mid-40’s during my prime. However, I’m thrilled though that in the course of four months, I have negated so much of those poor decisions. Now it’s time to see where I can go with this success and what my potential is today.



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