Your Fitness Age Can Differ from Your Chronological Age — Here's Why That's Important

Pretty much all of us, no matter our age, have wished we could turn back the clock at some point or another. In fact, you've probably noticed by now that the search for immortality is kind of an ongoing human pursuit. Unfortunately, I'm not writing to tell you that scientists have found a way to keep you forever young (can you hear plastic surgeons across the globe sighing in relief?), but I do have good news: Research has shown that people have a "fitness age" in addition to their chronological age. And unlike your chronological age, you can change this one pretty easily — all you have to do is exercise. Yup, that's literally it. Just exercise more. The study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise , looked at the data from 55,000 Norwegian men and women who filled out a survey in the 1980s, estimated their cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) levels, and checked the death records. The results showed that both men and women with higher levels of CRF were less likely to die from either cardiovascular disease or any other kind of illness. According to The New York Times, the participants whose fitness age was significantly above their chronological age were a whopping 82 percent more likely to die earlier.

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So how are you supposed to tell your fitness age? The researchers, based in the Norwegian University of Science in Trondheim, calculated it based on the participants' VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. This is a measure of a person's cardiovascular endurance; the higher the VO2 max, the better in shape someone is. Luckily for us, the researchers of the study know we're too lazy to take the expensive and complicated VO2 max test, so they condensed fitness age into a pretty simple test helpfully available online. Thanks, science! What do you do if the fitness age you get isn't quite what you're looking for? The lead researcher on the study, Dr. Ulrik Wisloff, told The New York Times that if people "just exercise" the number should improve. Even for those of us who are so busy it seems like practically every minute is scheduled, it actually isn't too hard to fit exercise into a daily routine; even just five minutes of walking at a time helps. Exercise also has countless mental health benefits as well. Basically, almost everything you've been hearing about the benefits of working out is true, as you're probably well aware of already.If you're interested in lowering your fitness age but aren't sure where to start or you're just bored with your current workout routine, there are plenty of online exercise tools to help you out. Not only are there videos available for all levels of fitness, but they're also free!

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Here are a few of my favorite workout channels:

1. Blogilates

Cassey Ho is simultaneously adorable and makes you want to die with her Pilates routines. It's great. She also has a really successful clean-eating blog, but I love Pop-Tarts too much to ever follow its advice.

blogilates on YouTube

2. Spark People

The Spark People channel is great because of the sheer variety of videos available. They have everything from pregnancy workouts to stretches for runners.

SparkPeople on YouTube

3. Tone It Up

Not gonna lie, the women of Tone It Up are a little too Pinterest-y for me. Their hair is always perfectly tousled, and I'm not a fan of the slow-mo intros. But dear God, their workouts are killer, so if you can handle their perfectly glowing skin while you turn beet red and get sweatier than you thought possible, they're worth checking out.

Tone It Up on YouTube

If none of these work out for you (pun absolutely intended), definitely keep looking! YouTube never disappoints. Have a lovely workout!