Health is a state of being that includes physical, mental, and social well-being. It’s a journey of trying new things, getting more sleep, eating better, and meeting people that motivate you to keep going.
Fitness is about having the ability to perform your activities of daily living without too much trouble. While it can’t change the number of candles on your birthday cake, it can make you functionally younger.
What is my fitness age?
You might know how old you are based on the number of candles on your birthday cake, but what about your fitness age?
Fitness age refers to how well your body works physically — compared to what it should work for someone your age — as measured by your peak oxygen uptake (VO2 max). And it’s been shown to correlate with longevity.
The result is your fitness age, which is a better indicator of health and wellness than how many years you’ve been around. You can find your health & fitness age by entering your basic information and by allowing the app access to your Apple Health data. You can also track your progress over time with a history graph.
Calculate your fitness age
The good news is that your fitness age, which takes into account both the number of birthdays you’ve celebrated and your respiratory health, can be lower than your chronological age. To calculate your fitness age, enter your height, weight, body fat percentage, exercise routine, and other details into Garmin Connect.
Then the app compares your data to others in your gender and age group to give you an estimated VO2 max, or how much oxygen your body can use during intense workouts. The calculator is especially helpful if you’re trying to understand how to increase your fitness level and reduce your biological age, says elite personal trainer David Wiener.
To test the validity of the calculator, researchers used it to assess athletes competing at the National Senior Games in the U.S. The resulting data supports the notion that fitness age is a stronger indicator of mortality than chronological age. And because the test is simple enough to do during a commercial break from Broad City, it’s one you can keep track of over time.
Increase your fitness age
The good news is, your fitness age can be lowered regardless of your current level of physical activity. This means you can turn back your biological clock and give yourself a fresh new lease on life.
You can increase your VO2 max and lower your fitness age with even modest exercise. It may take weeks or months to see a significant change in your VO2 max, depending on your current fitness level.
A low VO2 max is associated with a higher risk of death than other traditional risks, like high blood pressure, cholesterol, or smoking. The researchers behind the fitness age concept are working on a study that will directly compare a person’s fitness age with their chronological age to see how well it predicts mortality. Their goal is to use the data to make recommendations for people about how they can increase their VO2 max and decrease their fitness age, thus potentially increasing lifespan. Until then, the best advice is to stay active.
Increase your lifespan
Lifespan is a major factor when it comes to determining your quality of life. There are many ways to increase your lifespan, including adjusting your diet, exercise, and social life. You can also live longer by staying physically active, reducing your stress levels, and avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
According to a study on the million-veteran program MVP, adopting just eight healthy lifestyle behaviors could add 24 years to your life at age 40. Women saw similar gains—one healthy habit added 3.5 years to their life, while two added 8, three increased it to 12.6, and embracing all eight extended their lives to 22.6 years.
Increasing your lifespan by working out, eating well, and getting enough sleep will help you feel better throughout your lifetime. However, it’s important to note that fitness and health are not the same thing. Fitness focuses on the body’s abilities and capacity, whereas health encompasses a more holistic approach to your overall well-being.