Your age in 'gym years'?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Torres, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. Torres

    Torres Banned

    Jan 1, 2011
    Interestng. Not sure I agree with all of it, but food for thought.

    Is your body working well for its age? Norwegian scientists have come up with a simple test that enables you to find out

    Your birthday is a reminder of how many years you have notched up so far, but how can you measure how well your body is defying the march of time?

    For years scientists have analysed how longevity can be predicted using various biological measures, from the length of one’s telomeres — the “bumpers” that protect the ends of your chromosomes — to methylation, the process by which DNA gradually transforms in different cells and tissues (the recent announcement that women’s breast tissue ages at a faster rate than other parts of their bodies was the result of one such study).

    Now scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have developed a simple test by which you can estimate your own “fitness age”, or how effectively your body is functioning for its years. The lead author of the study, Professor Ulrik Wisloff, director of the KG Jebsen Centre of Exercise in Medicine, says that the low-tech calculation is “the single best predictor of current and future health”.

    After evaluating the fitness, weight and health measurements of almost 5,000 subjects between the ages of 20 and 90, Professor Wisloff and his team used the data to come up with an accurate formula to estimate someone’s maximal oxygen uptake, or VO2max, a measure of how efficiently the body delivers oxygen to cells. Although VO2max declines with advancing years, the drop can be slowed with regular exercise. And a favourable VO2max for your age is linked to a host of health benefits, not least better cardiovascular function and less risk of heart disease and health problems linked to obesity. It correlates closely with longevity and is a strong indicator of physical youthfulness or ageing.

    Outlining their findings in the journal Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, the researchers say that you need your waist circumference in centimetres, your resting heart rate (see below), details of how often and how intensely you exercise and your age and sex. Fill in your details online at and, hey presto, you are told how old you are in gym years. Jamie Timmons, professor of systems biology at Loughborough University, says the new test appears to be a cheap and effective measure of health. “It is a method of comparing yourself with the average fitness in each age group which is very useful,” he says. “Your level of fitness does correlate with disease risk and your maximal oxygen uptake is linked to your risk of death.”

    How fit you are is increasingly thought to be a stronger predictor of general wellness than, say, weight or BMI alone. Adults aged 60-plus with good aerobic fitness lived longer than unfit people of the same age, regardless of how much body fat they were carrying, according to a study conducted by the University of South Carolina. Others have linked physical fitness to lower levels of high cholesterol, raised blood pressure and osteoporosis. “The lower your VO2max or cardiorespiratory fitness, the greater the risk is of you developing cardiovascular and heart disease,” says Dr John Babraj, lecturer in sport and exercise science at the University of Abertay. “A low level of fitness is also associated with longer stays in hospitals following surgery in older people, as well as a greater propensity for other conditions like diabetes.”

    The Norwegian scientists admit that their calculator is not scientifically exact but they say it provides a useful “rough estimate of cardiorespiratory fitness”. In reality the outcome will be for some a wake-up call. A 45-year-old man who exercises moderately and has a 36-inch waistband and a resting heart rate of 72 beats per minute would have a fitness age of 55, for instance. For others, it can provide welcome relief that the Grim Reaper is farther away than they thought. Researchers came across one 70-year-old subject with a fitness age of 20.

    And my own result was something of a welcome surprise. Keying in my details I was informed that my estimated V02max is 49 and my “fitness age” is 21 — infinitely preferable to my chronological age given that my 45th birthday is looming ominously.

    The best news is that you can reverse the fitness clock. Years can be knocked off if you step up the frequency and intensity of your workouts. “Scientists know that someone who exercises several times a week and puts in progressively more effort can greatly reduce the rate at which their fitness naturally declines with age,” says John Brewer, professor of sport at the University of Bedfordshire. “Consequently you can have a fitness level of someone who is much younger and the health prospects of someone half your age.”
  2. Torres

    Torres Banned

    Jan 1, 2011

    How to measure your resting heart rate

    This is best taken when you wake up or when you have been sitting quietly for 15-20 minutes. Don’t take it after eating.

    Sit relaxed and still

    Locate your pulse and using a stopwatch count how many beats in 10 seconds

    Multiply the figure by 6 to get your resting heart rate

    How else does your fitness measure up?

    Scientists have come up with numerous tests to predict your health. Try these simple tests:

    1. How many push-ups can you do?

    The test:
    Perform push-ups until you can do no more. Women can do half push-ups with knees on the floor.
    What it tells you: According to the American College of Sports Medicine and other bodies your push-up test score is an indicator of your upper-body and shoulder muscular strength and endurance. Scoring in the “below average” category suggests poor upper-body strength and is an indicator of sarcopenia, natural loss of muscle mass with age that is linked to increased risk of diabetes and heart disease if body fat increases as a result. Low upper-body strength is also linked to osteoporotic fractures of the wrists and arms in old age.
    Women aged 30-39: 13 or above is good; below 13 is poor
    Men aged 30-39: 17 or above is good; below 17 is poor
    Women aged 40-49: 11 or above is good; below 11 is poor
    Men aged 40-49: 13 or above is good; below 13 is poor
    Women aged 50-59: 7 or above is good; below 7 is poor
    Men aged 50-59: 10 or above is good; below 10 is poor
    Women aged 60-69: 5 or above is good; below 5 is poor
    Men aged 60-69: 8 or above is good; below 8 is poor

    2. Stand up, sit down

    The test: How well you can stand up and sit down (using no hands or one hand) from a cross-legged seated position on the floor.
    What it tells you: If you are under 40 you should aim to complete at least 15 of these in a minute, but how many you can do will decrease with age. According to a Brazilian study of more than 2,000 people published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention last year, how well you can do this is a strong predictor of how long you are likely to live. Researchers found that 50-80-year-olds who could sit and then rise unaided from the floor were more likely to enjoy a longer life. Those needing extra assistance, such as getting up on both knees or using two hands were up to six times more likely to die prematurely. “If a middle-aged person can sit and rise from the floor using just one hand — or even better without the help of a hand — they are not only in the higher quartile of musculo-skeletal fitness, but their survival prognosis is better,” said Dr Claudio Gil Araújo of the Clinimex-Exercise Medicine Clinic in Rio De Janeiro.

    3. What’s your running speed?

    The test: How fast you can run a mile in middle age
    What it tells you: In studies published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology two years ago, Jarett Berry, assistant professor of cardiology at Southwestern Medical Center, found that running speed in midlife “is very strongly associated with heart disease rise when you are old”.
    From his results, Berry calculated:
    • A man in his fifties who can run a mile in 8 minutes or fewer, or a woman who can run it in 9 minutes or fewer had a 10 per cent lifetime risk of heart problems.
    • A 9-minute mile for a man and a mile in 10 minutes and 30 seconds for a woman had about a 20 per cent risk.
    • Men who couldn’t beat 10 minutes and women who were slower than 12 minutes had a 30 per cent risk of heart problems at some time during their lives. “The exercise you do in your forties is highly relevant to your heart disease risk in your eighties,” Berry said.

    4. How far can you walk in six minutes?

    The Test: Measure how far you can walk in six minutes, preferably on a running track measuring 400 metres.
    What it tells you: Not only is a timed walking test a measure of endurance and aerobic capacity in your later years — important factors in cardiovascular disease — but studies show that it is also a strong indicator of how well you can withstand general aches and pains, including lower-back pain, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation earlier this year.
    Distances to aim for are:
    Men and women under 60: 650-900 metres
    Men aged 60-64: 600 metres
    Women aged 60-64: 500m
    Men aged 65-69: 515m
    Women aged 65-69: 460m
    Men aged 70-74: 500m
    Women aged 70-74: 440m

    5. Sit and Reach

    The test: This is relevant for all ages. Fix a metre ruler on top of a box about 30cm high. Allow the ruler to extend 26cm over the front edge of the box towards you as you sit on the floor. Remove your shoes and sit on the floor with legs outstretched, knees straight and feet flat against the end of the box. Lean forward slowly, keeping knees straight and slide your hands alongside the ruler as far as you can. Record the result in centimetres. Repeat three times and find your average score.
    What it tells you: How far you can reach beyond your toes from a sitting position is used not only to define the flexibility of a person’s body and their likelihood of having arthritis or other conditions that restrict movement, but also as an indicator of arterial stiffness, a precursor of heart disease.
    A study in the American Journal of Physiology found that among people aged 40 and older performance on the sit-and-reach test could be used to assess the flexibility of their arteries. Healthy arteries are elastic and elasticity helps to moderate blood pressure. Arterial stiffness increases with age and is a risk factor for heart disease and strokes. Compare your test scores with the following:
    Above 34 = excellent
    28-34 = above average
    23-27 = average
    16-22 = below average (cause for concern)
    Below 16 = poor (cause for concern)
    Above 37 = excellent
    33-36 = above average
    29-32 = average
    23-28 = below average (cause for concern)
    Below 23 = poor (cause for concern)
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2013
  3. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo G.O.A.T.

    Aug 30, 2005
    The best time to get an accurate resting heart rate is when you just woke up and before breakfast.
  4. movdqa

    movdqa G.O.A.T.

    Sep 19, 2006
    I looked at the pushups and thought that 10 is a pretty low threshold for my age group until I remembered the weight problems that people my age have. That also affects running, walking and flexibility. My main weakness is flexibility in my legs. I stretch the legs every day, at least once before running and usually do a six-minute routine early in the morning so I'm working on it but progress is incredibly slow.

    I'm sure that my running and tennis are basically negatives for flexibility.

    I don't understand the walking test - couldn't you just run? Perhaps the higher age ranges imply that this test is more for people 60 and over where many would have difficulty running.
  5. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Professional

    Mar 23, 2013
    Your whole routine takes 6 minutes? Not for nothing, but I usually hold my stretches for a minimum of 3-5 minutes PER stretch.

    You might want to consider holding things a little longer esp since you've stated that your progress is incredibly slow.

    Another thing to consider is that if you keep on finding that no matter how much you stretch your legs, that they still are tight, you may have some imbalance in your pelvis which is prohibiting you from gaining flexibility.
  6. movdqa

    movdqa G.O.A.T.

    Sep 19, 2006
    > Your whole routine takes 6 minutes? Not for nothing,
    > but I usually hold my stretches for a minimum of 3-5
    > minutes PER stretch.

    You must have a lot of free time. I left for the office at 5:15 AM and will probably get home around 7 PM. I'll get in some tennis at my club and run a few miles and do strength work at the office. I may have some computer setup stuff to do for one of my kids tonight too.

    > You might want to consider holding things a little
    > longer esp since you've stated that your progress is
    > incredibly slow.

    At my age, I'm happy with any kind of progress.

    > Another thing to consider is that if you keep on
    > finding that no matter how much you stretch your
    > legs, that they still are tight, you may have some
    > imbalance in your pelvis which is prohibiting you from
    > gaining flexibility.

    It's just losing flexibility gradually over time. I was very flexible in my 20s and you lose it if you don't do it all the time. There are certain areas that I want to improve on and maintaining or slow improvement in flexibility is good enough.
  7. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

    Sep 18, 2010
    Hey, I like this test: my fitness age is 1/2 my regular age (29 vs 58 ).

    I think I'll have some donuts to celebrate!
  8. ssgator80

    ssgator80 Rookie

    Mar 4, 2008
    So I take it you can do more than 10 pushups. LOL
  9. movdqa

    movdqa G.O.A.T.

    Sep 19, 2006
    Mine is 21 vs 54. I don't think that it really matters - if you're putting in the effort and working on multiple areas and your bodyfat is in the athlete range (which I assume many here are in), then you already know. Yeah, I should do more on flexibility but it's hard to hit all of the areas with intensity if you live a busy life.
  10. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Professional

    Mar 23, 2013

    My limited free time has a focus on flexibility more than anything else as I've found for myself being limber has reduced my recovery times for aches and injury and I generally feel better and play better when I'm loose.

    I'm no rubber band, but being able to bounce back like a rubber band after a stress has been applied has its merits that you won't acheive with strictly strength training and running.

    Which is why I mentioned you might want to consider changing your routine or stretch smarter to see improvements but....

    Well, then that says it all. Keep at it and happy hitting!.
  11. 0d1n

    0d1n Hall of Fame

    Jul 8, 2006
    Cluj-Napoca, Romania
    Your VO2MAX is calculated to be
    and your estimated "fitness age" is
    younger than 20

    So now I'm a teen. I'm taking that as an insult :))
  12. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

    Jul 5, 2010
    Actually, more recent studies have indicated there is no additional benefit to be gained from holding stretches longer than about 30 seconds.
  13. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Professional

    Mar 23, 2013
    So if I do stretch for 30 seconds and feel ok, but hold it longer and feel even better, that's not a benefit?:confused:
  14. spaul8809

    spaul8809 New User

    Aug 20, 2013
    if you want to perform gym then your minimum age should be > 18 years

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