By: Alexandra Duron
It turns out that the old cliché, "age is just a number," has some scientific basis. Sure, you're going to pick up some of the aches, pains, and decreased capacity for drinking that come with the passing years, but there's a way you can trick Father Time into winding back the clock on your calendar age.
While you can't pull a literal Benjamin Button, you have more power than you may realize over another important number: your fitness age. And when it comes to that, you can get younger, which may ultimately mean living longer.
Why you can stop celebrating your calendar birthday
A concept developed by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, your fitness age is a measure of VO2max (i.e. how much oxygen you use during intense exercise and the best indicator of cardiovascular fitness) and a complex combination of other health factors we won't list here, because boy are they sciencey.
Since it can be a bummer to determine (one that involves working out with a Darth Vader-like mask strapped to your face and being hooked up to a machine that tracks the quality of each breath), science found a DIY solution. The researchers who invented the concept also created a calculator that estimates VO2max and considers other data -- like workout frequency and intensity, height, weight, and more -- to figure out your fitness age. And this test is one you can take while you wait for Broad City to come back from a commercial break. We call that a win-win.
You might actually be older than someone's grandmother
These same researchers found out that VO2max is pretty telling: a reading that's below average for your age (you want it to either equal or surpass the expected number for your age) ups your risk for metabolic syndrome, which could lead to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. In other words: the lower your fitness age, the higher your VO2max, the better off you'll be.
Assuming it's in that sweet spot, your fitness age also proves that staying fit and healthy is a wise investment -- one that keeps you young. "It's going to benefit you by decreasing the rate at which you age," says fitness expert Pamela Peeke, MD, a member of the National Senior Games Association Foundation Board.
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