What’s your fit­ness age?

Lesotho Times - - Health -

YOU al­ready know your chrono­log­i­cal age, but do you know your fit­ness age?

A new study of fit­ness and life­span sug­gests that a per­son’s so­called fit­ness age – de­ter­mined pri­mar­ily by a mea­sure of car­dio­vas­cu­lar en­durance – is a bet­ter pre­dic­tor of longevity than chrono­log­i­cal age.

The good news is that un­like your ac­tual age, your fit­ness age can de­crease.

The con­cept of fit­ness age has been de­vel­oped by re­searchers at the Nor­we­gian Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy in Trond­heim, who have stud­ied fit­ness and how it re­lates to well­ness for years.

Fit­ness age is de­ter­mined pri­mar­ily by your VO2­max, which is a mea­sure of your body’s abil­ity to take in and uti­lize oxy­gen. VO2­max in­di­cates your cur­rent car­dio­vas­cu­lar en­durance.

It also can be used to com­pare your fit­ness with that of other peo­ple of the same age, pro­vid­ing you, in the process, with a per­sonal fit­ness age.

If your VO2­max is be­low av­er­age for your age group, then your fit­ness age is older than your ac­tual age. But if you com­pare well, you can ac­tu­ally turn back the clock to a younger fit­ness age.

That means a 50-year-old man con­ceiv­ably could have a fit­ness age be­tween 30 and 75, de­pend­ing on his VO2­max.

Know­ing your fit­ness age could be in­struc­tive and per­haps sober­ing, but it also ne­ces­si­tates know­ing your VO2­max first, which few of us do. Pre­cise mea­sure­ment of aer­o­bic ca­pac­ity re­quires high-tech tread- mill test­ing.

To work around that prob­lem, the Nor­we­gian sci­en­tists de­cided sev­eral years ago to de­velop an easy method for es­ti­mat­ing VO2­max.

They re­cruited almost 5 000 Nor­we­gians be­tween the ages of 20 and 90, mea­sured their aer­o­bic ca­pac­ity with tread­mill test­ing and also checked a va­ri­ety of health pa­ram­e­ters, in­clud­ing waist cir­cum­fer­ence, heart rate and ex­er­cise habits.

They then de­ter­mined that those pa­ram­e­ters could, if plugged into an al­go­rithm, pro­vide a very close ap­prox­i­ma­tion of some­one’s VO2­max.

But while fit­ness age may give you brag­ging rights about your youth­ful vigor, the real ques­tion is whether it is a mean­ing­ful mea­sure­ment in terms of longevity.

Will hav­ing a younger fit­ness age add years to your life? Does an ad­vanced fit­ness age mean you will die sooner?

The orig­i­nal Nor­we­gian data did not show any di­rect cor­re­la­tion be­tween fit­ness age and a longer life.

But in a new study, which was pub­lished in June in Medicine & Sci­ence in Sports & Ex­er­cise, the sci­en­tists turned to a large trove of data about more than 55 000 Nor­we­gian adults who had com­pleted ex­ten­sive health ques­tion­naires be­gin­ning in the 1980s.

The sci­en­tists used the vol­un­teers’ an­swers to es­ti­mate each per­son’s VO2­max and fit­ness age. Then they checked death records. It turned out that peo­ple whose cal­cu­lated VO2­max was 85 per­cent or more be­low the av­er­age for their age — mean­ing that their fit­ness age was sig­nif­i­cantly above their chrono­log­i­cal years — had an 82 per­cent higher risk of dy­ing pre­ma­turely than those whose age was the same as or more youth­ful than their ac­tual age.

Ac­cord­ing to the study’s au­thors, the re­sults sug­gest that fit­ness age may pre­dict a per­son’s risk of early death bet­ter than some tra­di­tional risk fac­tors like be­ing over­weight, hav­ing high choles­terol lev­els or blood pres­sure, and smoking.

Of per­haps even greater im­me­di­ate in­ter­est, the sci­en­tists used the data from this new study to re­fine and ex­pand an on­line cal­cu­la­tor for de­ter­min­ing fit­ness age. An up­dated ver­sion went live this month.

it asks only a few sim­ple ques­tions, in­clud­ing your age, gen­der, waist size and ex­er­cise rou­tine, be­fore pro­vid­ing you with your cur­rent fit­ness age.

(I dis­cov­ered my own fit­ness age is 15 years younger than my chrono­log­i­cal age — a good num­ber but still not as low as I could wish.)

Thank­fully, fit­ness age can be al­tered, said Ul­rik Wisloff, pro­fes­sor at the KG Jeb­sen Cen­ter for Ex­er­cise in Medicine at The Nor­we­gian Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, who led the study.

His ad­vice if your fit­ness age ex­ceeds your chrono­log­i­cal years or is not as low as you would like? “Just ex­er­cise.”

But he said almost any type and amount of ex­er­cise should help to in­crease your VO2­max and lower your fit­ness age, po­ten­tially in­creas­ing through­out the day. Com­par­ing two in­di­vid­u­als of sim­i­lar weight, the per­son with the larger amount of mus­cle will gen­er­ally have the faster metabolism.

This is just one of the rea­sons it’s im­por­tant to pair any weight loss pro­gram with a proper strength train­ing plan. Re­search has found the ex­tra mus­cle can help ac­cel­er­ate weight loss much faster than a diet-only plan.

While body size does fac­tor in, body com­po­si­tion has a far greater ef­fect on metabolism. Myth #2: Skip­ping a meal slows down

your metabolism. Any­one look­ing to drop a few pounds bet­ter be grazing on fre­quent meals and snacks through­out the day right? Turns out the old no­tion of eat­ing a meal ev­ery three to four hours to ramp up one’s metabolism wasn’t ex­actly per­fect ad­vice.

In fact, how fre­quently some­one eats has lit­tle to do with the speed of their metabolism. Freed­hoff ex­plains, “Eat­ing ev­ery four hours is popular be­cause eat­ing fre­quently, for many, helps them to keep a lid on both stom­ach hunger as well as crav­ings.” That, in turn, al­lows for bet­ter por­tion and choice con­trol, Freed­hoff says.

Cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als (those prone to crav­ings or with spe­cial di­etary needs) may ben­e­fit from con­sum­ing mul­ti­ple meals through your life­span.

In up­com­ing stud­ies, he added, he and his col­leagues will di­rectly com­pare how well fit­ness age stacks up against other, more es­tab­lished mea­sures of mor­tal­ity risk, like the Fram­ing­ham Risk Cal­cu­la­tor (which does not in­clude ex­er­cise habits among its vari­ables).

They also hope to ex­pand their stud­ies to in­clude more types of par­tic­i­pants, since adult Nor­we­gians may not be rep­re­sen­ta­tive of all of the world’s pop­u­la­tion.

But even in ad­vance of this ad­di­tional data, there is no harm in learn­ing and low­er­ing your fit­ness age, Dr. Wisloff ad­vised.

“There is a huge ben­e­fit,” he said, “larger than any known med­i­cal treat­ment, in im­prov­ing your fit­ness level to what is ex­pected for your age group or, even bet­ter, to above it.” NY Times later use, in­clud­ing car­bo­hy­drates and fats. A prop­erly func­tion­ing metabolism is a del­i­cate bal­ance of both func­tions.

Metabolism con­sists of both break­ing things down and build­ing things up; both are vi­tal to our health.

Fit­ness age is de­ter­mined pri­mar­ily by your Vo2­max

Con­sum­ing wa­ter may have a pos­i­tive im­pact on how many calo­ries you burn through­out the day

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