How long you’ve lived is clearly one way to measure age — but if aging is about the gradual decline of body function and eventual mortality then perhaps there is another contender for the best way to measure age – your fitness. And unlike your calendar age, you can actually change your fitness. In my last two posts I talked about my personal experience reducing blood pressure by improving fitness and the massive published data validating the link between fitness and aging induced blood pressure.
Now a group of Norwegian researchers from HUNT University have published a study looking at ~38K men & women who they followed-up for a mean duration of 24 years to demonstrate that fitness was a very good predictor of mortality at all age levels and perhaps the best predictor for those less than 60 years of age. Every 1 MET increase in fitness resulted in 15% lower risk of all-cause mortality amongst men and 8% lower risk amongst women. In this particular example fitness was estimated using demographic + activity data (which gives a rough indicator but is not that accurate). The accompanying NYT article has more detail on the study and related research.
The group also created a really cool online calculator — you can plug in your data and get an estimate of your fitness, compare it to age cohorts. Worth trying out!
From the study, here’s what your fitness should look like on average, if you’re aging well: