Want to maintain the body of a 20-year-old for life? November 3, 2017
We’ve all heard that 40 is the new 30. Or depending on your age, you might prefer ’50 is the new 30′, or ’70 is the new 50′. It turns out there might just be some truth to this.
While you have no say in your chronological age, your biological age is something different altogether. It reflects how healthy your insides are, and this can bear little resemblance to the age on your last birthday card.
Fitness age, which Professor Ulrik Wisløff introduced to the world in a 2014 study, is rooted in your body’s level of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF)—its ability to disperse and consume oxygen. In fact, this is such an important factor to your longevity and your long-term health that a recent scientific statement from the American Heart Association described it as a “potentially stronger predictor of mortality than established risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, and type-2 diabetes mellitus.” And the surest way of gauging CRF according to Wisløff is to calculate your VO2 max, the maximum amount of oxygen you can process during an activity.
Bottom line, how can I improve my fitness age?
Wisløff has consistently found, a great CRF is achieved through high-intensity exercise, not long, slow jogging. This is because by increasing the amount of blood your heart can pump in a given amount of time, it increases your body’s ability to uptake and distribute oxygen. In other words, a more efficient, more powerful heart leads directly to a higher VO2 max, resulting in a stronger and healthier body.
To boost your VO2 max, you will need to hit around 85–95% of your maximum heart beats per minute, and you will want to work out in this intensity range for as long as you possibly can. The key to mentally and physically sustaining that kind of workload, Wisløff says, is to use interval training. “It’s obvious that one cannot exercise for very long periods of time at 85–95% of maximal heart rate,” he says. “But intervals get you up to that needed intensity” and give you enough rest in between “to get rid of lactic acid that builds up during the interval.”
Wisløff and his colleagues found that four minutes is a length most can manage. It lets your heart pump at its maximum stroke capacity for an extended time, and it’s sustainable for untrained individuals
By now you’ve probably realised that many popular fitness devices in the market claimed to improve your fitness just don’t pass the muster when you’re trying to reduce your fitness age. Walk 10,000 steps per day? Sure? But unfortunately your heart rate is never going to get anywhere close to a range that you can increase your VO2 max, and hence won’t help you to lower your fitness age. Exercise for 150 minutes per week? Sounds promising, but what’s your real output going to be? Is it really helping you to get fitter?
We all want to train smarter and more efficient, and who doesn’t want a young and healthy body, and have a fitness age that is younger than your actual chronological age? Next time when you exercise, try to push yourself harder into 85–95% of your maximum heart rate zone for as long as you can, and you will reap the benefits in no time.