Tip #4: What is your current fitness age?

Obesity levels for the senior population in the U.S. are now over 40 percent. If you are a former high school/college/post-college athlete who has been on the couch for the past 20-30+ years, this series of twice-monthly tips will show you how to resume an active lifestyle.

Fortunately, numerous studies have confirmed that it is never too late to resume an active lifestyle. I will show you how to reduce your fitness age, a more reliable indicator of longevity than your BMI, by 20+ years over the next 12-24 months. You will definitely be healthier, happier, and an inspiration for your family, friends, and colleagues. What’s better than that?

How do you calculate your current fitness age?

You have three “ages.” The first is your chronological age. The second is your “fat” age, based on your Body Mass Index (BMI), which measures a correlation between your height and weight. The third is your “fitness” age, based on the frequency, duration, and intensity of your cardio exercise of choice.

To determine your current fitness age, click on this link to the World Fitness Level website. This online questionnaire is backed by extensive research of six million healthy individuals around the world. You will get an accurate estimate of your current fitness age, which is your baseline. Don’t be discouraged if your fitness age is similar or greater than your chronological age. (If it is significantly greater than your chronological age, first check with your doctor, then get active immediately.)

As you increase the frequency, length, and intensity of your exercise routine, your fitness age will start to drop. Retake the questionnaire at six month intervals. I’m pretty certain you will have started to “turn back the clock.”

What have I learned?

I first learned about fitness age at the 2015 National Senior Games in Minneapolis/St. Paul. A team of student researchers from the University of South Dakota were offering free performance tests on the senior athletes. The battery of tests included assessments of balance, strength, flexibility, and heart rate/blood pressure. I was intrigued by the idea that I could literally “turn back the clock” as a result of my exercising.

I found the World Fitness Level website during an online search. I don’t remember what my fitness age was the first time I completed the online questionnaire. But subsequent visits gave me a similar result: equivalent to the average 34-year-old, better than half of my chronological age. By comparison, my latest BMI “fat” age is equivalent to a 57 year old, still over 10 years younger than my chronological age.

To duplicate my result, you need to exercise nearly daily (I exercise six days per week, 50 weeks per year), for at least 30 minutes or more (I average an hour per day), and all-out (hard enough to sweat). My increased vitality, disease-resistance, and flexibility have been worth every minute I’ve invested in my active lifestyle.

Any questions?

If you have any questions about living an active lifestyle or about your cycling goals, training, racing, or gear, I’d like to hear from you. I may address your questions in a future tip. Just drop me a note.

Tip #5 Preview: What is my resting heart rate?