Figuring Out Your Health Age Just Got Easier.

You no longer need to answer 50 to 100 questions about your health and habits to get an accurate snap shot of your aerobic capacity or health age.  One group of researchers has whittled the popular and lengthy health risk assessment down to seven simple questions.

What's Your Health Age?   Flickr photo by Damian Navas

What’s Your Health Age? Flickr photo by Damian Navas

What’s Your Health Age?

Reserachers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim evaluated almost 5,000 Norwegians between the ages of 20 and 90 using mobile labs. They took a slew of measurements that included height, weight, body mass index, resting heart rate, HDL and total cholesterol levels. In addition, each person had to fill out a lengthy lifestyle questionnaire.

Then, each person was required to run to the point of exhaustion on a treadmill and a V02 max measurement was taken.  Remember, V02 max measures peak oxygen intake which shows how well the body delivers oxygen to its cells. It is considered to be the best way to determine aerobic fitness and is a good indicator of a person’s health age.

Next the researchers decided they would see if they could figure out how to estimate V02 max without using a treadmill. They went through all of the results of the data that they had obtained from their research and determined that seven key measurements would give them an accurate picture of V02 max.  Those measurements are: waist circumference, resting heart rate, duration, frequency and intensity of exercise, age and sex.

According to their study published in the journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the researchers placed those seven measurements in an algorithm which allowed them to predict a person’s V02 max and health age with accuracy. The researchers went one step further and created an on-line calculator that will give you a good indicator of your V02max without running on a treadmill.

Why Knowing Your Health Age Is Important

Before taking the on-line assessment you’ll need to determine what your resting heart rate is. The best way to get an accurate resting heart rate is to take it right before you get up in the morning, or sit quietly in a chair for 10 minutes, then count your pulse for one minute.  The V02 max calculator is at Norwegian University of Science and

This quick test may provide surprising results. If your health age is a positive number it will inspire you to keep doing the things you are doing that are having an impact on your health. If the news isn’t so good, you’ll know you need to get started on a good fitness and nutrition plan so that your score will improve by the next time you take it.

There are  benefits to taking the more in-depth health risk assessments that you can find at various locations throughout the web. Typically the longer version HRAs provide you with some good feedback about your results along with suggestions on how to improve or sustain your health. Here’s a link to WebMD’s HRA that is easy to navigate and provides you with talking points for you to take to your doctor.

Both the quickie and longer versions HRAs are worth the time and will provide you with some solid information about what your health age is.

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