Fitness Level Calculator

What is your fitness level?

Physical fitness is key to a long life and good health.

Many of us judge our fitness level by what we see in the mirror, how fast we can run or what we can do in the gym.

These are all good indicators of physical fitness, but there are other factors that we cannot see in the mirror or on the stop watch.

One of these factors is cardiovascular fitness.

Cardiovascular fitness is a key health factor and indicator of fitness.

Your body’s capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise (VO2 Max) is the most precise measure of overall cardiovascular fitness.

There are two ways to measure your VO2 Max.

Based on extensive research, The K. G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, developed a survey that you can take to easily estimate your fitness level (VO2 Max).

The survey takes about five minutes to complete and requires information most of us know about ourselves.

The survey is anonymous and free. The data you provide is added to their database for research purposes.

The results of my October 2014 worldfitnesslevel.org questionnaire are below. Click my 2014 results and go to the Worldfitnesslevel.org website to calculate your fitness level.

Vo2max, age, fitness level calculator

I knew I was in the best shape of my life in 2014, but these results were surprising.

The survey asks questions about your weight, height, exercise routine and your diet. They also ask for your resting heart rate.

That’s probably the most difficult question for most of us to answer.

In 2014, I used a resting heart rate of 50 in my calculations. At that time my resting rate was usually below 50.

The best way to find your resting heart rate is to check your pulse before you get out of bed in the morning. Count your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4. At a doctor’s office it’s not unusual for your heart rate to be slightly elevated!

Either method is fine as you are getting an estimate and not a diagnosis from this survey.

I took the survey again in March of 2019. This time I estimated my resting heart rate to be 56. It may be lower than that, but I’m certainly not in the same shape I was in 2014.

I weigh a little more in 2019, but my exercise and diet are similar if not a bit better. A question that I do not recall seeing five years ago was “How many hours a day do I spend sitting?”

Between work, commuting and sitting around the house, I estimated 12 hours per day. It’s probably more than that!

VoMAX, fitness

I am now five years older and weigh about 5lbs more than I did in 2014.

My results show that I have the fitness level of a 34 year old. That’s not bad for a 55 year-old. But five years ago I was as fit as a 24 year-old.

I didn’t dig into how the calculations are made, but the details are on their web site.

I’m pretty sure my pulse, weight and sitting time were the biggest factors to my loosing 10 years of fitness over five years!

I have read that it is important to know your VO2 Max for training. I never knew how to make these calculations and my doctor would not do it or refer me to a specialist to get the calculations.

Having a calculator designed by scientists is a good way to get a good approximation of your VO2 Max and fitness level. These calculations may not be 100% accurate, but it’s a good place to start.

Age can be measured by more than years

An October, 2014 New York Times article by Gretchen Reynolds discusses the research study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) that helped develop this calculator. The NTNU have conducted studies on fitness and how it relates to wellness for more than 30 years.

This study, begun in the 1980’s, collected data from 55,000 Norwegian adults. They used the data to calculate the subject’s VO2max and  fitness age. The higher your VO2max in relation to others your age, the lower your fitness age. Then they checked the death records for the study participants and discovered a relationship between VO2max and mortality.

It turned out that people whose calculated VO2max was 15 percent or more below average for their age— meaning that their fitness age was significantly above their chronological years — had an 82 percent higher risk of dying prematurely than those whose fitness age was the same as or more youthful than their actual age. According to the study’s authors, the results suggest that fitness age may predict a person’s risk of early death better than some traditional risk factors like being overweight, having high cholesterol levels or blood pressure, and smoking.
Source: NY Times

The NTNU study collected data from Norwegians and the researchers understand that their results may not be accurate world wide. They plan to expand their study group and update the questionnaire to help make the calculator more accurate  for people around the world.

Precisely Measuring Your Fitness Level

The most accurate way to measure your fitness level is a direct measurement using calibrated equipment.

In the Boston area Cenegenics Medical Institute in Boston  and Outback PT in Somerville offer the VO2 Max test. The test is conducted on a treadmill or exercise bike while you wear a heart rate monitor and a mask. The mask collects all exhaled breath in order to make the VO2 Max calculations.

For a VO2 Max test at Outback PT the cost is $199. At Cenegenics the VO2 Max test will run you $150.00, or combine it with a DEXA Body Composition Scan for $300.

Check out this video from Outback PT to see how the VO2 Max test is conducted at their office.

While nothing can replace a direct measurement of your fitness level, the on-line questionnaire is an affordable place to start.

Have you checked your fitness level?

Run well my friends,

Andy

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DEXA Body Composition Scan

The DEXA body scan is the most accurate method to measure body composition and distribution of fat and muscle mass. Read about my scan and learn more about the DEXA body composition scan.

You may have seem TV commercials for the Cenegenics Medical Institute in Boston.

They provide a variety of services from nutrition coaching, metabolism and exercise studies and healthy aging strategies.

One of the services they provide to assess patients physical condition is the Body Composition DEXA Scan.

The DEXA scan is considered the Gold Standard in body composition measurement and is commonly used to measure bone density. Increasingly it is being used to measure body composition.

I received a Body Composition DEXA Scan at Cenegenics Boston as compensation for writing this review.

Cenegenics has offered the DEXA Scan to their clients since 2011 and to the general public since 2015. In 2012 when I first wrote about body composition studies, no one in the Boston area offered the DEXA scan.

Cenegenics Boston provides a single scan for $175, two for $300 and four for $500. If you get a 10 scan package the cost is $99 per scan.

Why get a DEXA Body Composition Scan

The DEXA Scan is performed using a GE Lunar Prodigy Advance. This machine exposes the body to 1/10 the x-ray radiation of a chest x-ray. So the exposure is minimal.

DEXA Body Composition Scan, Cenegenics BostonDEXA Scan gives you the most precise information about your body fat, muscle, and bone composition, and lets you track changes in body composition over time.

Fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and dieters often use body composition scans to get a baseline of where they are now, and to objectively measure their progress.

Scanning every three to six months is a good way to monitor and evaluate your progress.

Some of us need to monitor our bone density or body fat. Athletes want to measure their body fat and muscle composition.

The primary advantage of DEXA Scan over fat estimating devices such as bioimpedance scales, calipers, tape measure, or displacement estimate devices such as hydrostatic dunk tank or Bod Pod is that the DEXA Scan is actually measuring your body fat and giving you precise measurements.

DEXA Scan gives you precise measurements of fat and muscle distribution around your body.

The DEXA Scan scan also shows muscle asymmetries between your left and right sides. These asymmetries throw weight distribution off, cause muscle miscoordination, and create unnatural stresses that lead to injury.

As a true body composition analysis, you can track potentially dangerous visceral fat around your vital organs. This cannot be done with any of the other body composition measurement tools.

You get a better sense of where you are now. And you can track the improvement over time.

For the average amateur runner like me the DEXA Scan can be very helpful.

Getting a DEXA Scan

DEXA scans are available in most major US, Canadian and UK cities. Many large hospitals also offer them to track the bone density of their older patients.

Check here to find the office offering the scan closest to you. Enter your zip or postal code, or use the map.

Check here for how to prepare for your scan and what to expect during your scan.

My DEXA Scan and results

I became interested in body composition several years ago. In 2012 I wrote about the different tests available in a post titled “What’s Your Number?”

You can perform a BMI calculation online or your doctor may provide your BMI at your annual physical. However, the BMI is imprecise and measures body mass, not body composition.

Over the past 15 years, my weight has fluctuated between 175 and 185lbs. When I began running in January of 2003, my weight was 203 on the bathroom scale. In 2014 I trained all year and ran three marathons and my weight dipped to 169lbs briefly.

When I went for my DEXA scan the office scale had me at 188lbs but the DEXA machine had me at 183lbs. I’m also shrinking and am now just under 6′ tall! Between my weight and decreased stature, my BMI was recorded as 25.7. This puts me just into the “overweight” bracket which begins with a BMI of 25.

The DEXA scan gave me the following numbers:

Total Body Mass: 183.7 lbs
Total Tissue:         176.3 lbs
Total Fat:                43.6 lbs
Lean:                    132.7 lbs
Bone Mass:              7.3 lbs
Fat Free Mass:     140.1 lbs

Fat Free Mass combines Bone Mass (7.3) and Lean Mass (132.7) to get 140.1 Fat Free pounds.

Currently I am carrying 43.6 lbs of fat on my body. I was shocked to hear that number. That’s almost a bag of cement!

Dividing 43.6 lbs into my Total Tissue Mass (176.3) gives me a body fat composition of 24.7%. Again, this seemed high.

The important part of this analysis is the next part. The DEXA scans measures both Android and Gynoid fat.

Android fat is primarily carried in the belly area while some is also carried in the chest and upper arms.

Android fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, hormonal imbalances, some cancers, sleep apnea, and more.

Some Android fat is subcutaneous (under the skin) and some is visceral and surrounds our organs.

The subcutaneous fats is what we see in the mirror and which hides our six packs, no matter how hard we work to get them.

Our bodies need some visceral fat for normal body functions. But too much of a good thing can cause the variety of issues mentioned above.

My estimated Visceral Adipose Tissue was estimated at 2.85 lbs. I was told this is the fat under my abs and that it should be about 1 lb! Yikes! This much fat in this area is not a good thing.

Gynoid fat refers to the body fat that forms around the hips, breasts and thighs. For men this type of fat is typically not an issue. We didn’t discuss this type of fat in depth, but the technician did say that my legs have a healthy amount of fat.

Next Steps and Moving Forward

My goal is to get to 175 lbs. That means loosing about 8 lbs from where I am now. Since my total body fat is 43.6 lbs I need to loose about 18% of my body fat to reach this goal.

With age it becomes increasingly difficult to loose weight. It also becomes increasingly easy to gain weight.

I employed some dietary restrictions over the holidays and didn’t gain any weight. I also maintained my light running routine. This put me in a good position to reach my goal.

By paying attention to my refined carbohydrate and alcohol intake and increasing my running, I will be able to get to 175 and maybe beyond.

My next steps are to train like I have a number for The Boston Marathon. I’ve also been eating more fruit and nuts instead of corn chips and guacamole. I will also be more diligent avoiding sugar as I have been a little lax over the holidays.

Each time I think about heading to the fridge for an IPA, I think about that 2.85 lb pad of fat between my abs and my intestines. Do I really want to feed that thing?

Knowledge is Power

You don’t know what you don’t know. Getting a DEXA Scan is a lot like getting a blood work up at your doctor’s. Until the blood work comes back you don’t know what your cholesterol or triglyceride levels are. You don’t know what your A1c or vitamin levels are.

You can’t take action and control of your health until you know whats going on inside.

While a DEXA scan may seem expensive, I would encourage you to go at least once. It’s not just knowing how much you weigh that’s important. It’s important to know where you carry your weight so that you can understand your risks and what to do about it.

Run well my Friends,

Andy

Mid-week motivation

Check out this link on Health & Fitness Obsession, or lack thereof in the US.

I love infographics because you can see so much data in an easy to consume format. I don’t think most of this information will be startling to any of you. If you were thinking of NOT going to the gym or NOT running today, this should give you the mid-week motivation you need to move.

Once you open the link use “Ctrl + or -” to re-size the graphic.


runner, race, fitness, mid week motivation

Run well my friends.

Andy

© 2014 anagelin

 

Health on sale

Turmeric Curcumin

A few years ago while working through a running injury a friend told me about turmeric. My injury involved inflammation and they told me that turmeric had anti-inflammatory properties.

I had been dealing with my injury with ibuprofen, ice and compression. It’s not good to take the maximum daily dose of ibuprofen for weeks on end, so I decided to check out their suggestion.

What is turmeric?

Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family that produces the signature yellow turmeric spice. It has been used in Asia for thousands of years. It was first used as a dye, and later for its medicinal properties. Turmeric curcumin has been used for over 4,000 years and has recently gained popularity in The West for its natural health properties. 1

The product my friend recommended as a good source of turmeric was Tumeric – elixir of life. It was available in 12 and 32 oz bottles at Wholefoods.

tumeric, turmeric
TumericALIVE – Original Elixir

I don’t think that Tumeric – elixir of life is still on the market. It didn’t show up in a Google search but lots of articles on and reviews of turmeric curcumin supplements did.

The substance in turmeric that gives it it’s healthful qualities is curcumin. 

Curcumin is a polyphenol found in turmeric which provides the color and healthy properties of turmeric.

Polyphenols are antioxidants found in many foods. Antioxidants help fight free radicals which are chemicals that have the potential to cause damage to cells and tissues in the body.

Free Radicals are the natural byproducts of chemical processes, such as metabolism. Free Radicals can also be created by exposure to substances in our environment including the food we eat.

According to an article in Biochemical Society Transactions, intense aerobic exercise can induce oxidative stress. Burning fuel in high-intensity cardio exercise causes chemical reactions that make free radicals form at a faster rate. This isn’t an excuse to skip the gym, however. According to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, frequent exercise training seems to reduce the oxidative stress initially brought on by exercise. This is because regular physical exercise enhances antioxidant defenses.

Spurred by the concern that intense exercise could cause oxidative stress, several studies were conducted to look at the effects of antioxidant supplementation for athletes. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article said that supplementing high intensity exercise with antioxidant supplements produced no beneficial effects, however. Regular exercise alone was enough to build up antioxidant defenses against the initial exercise-induced oxidative stress. 2

While curcumin may not reduce free radicals while exercising, it is still beneficial in recovery.

A 2007 book The Molecular Targets and Therapeutic Uses of Curcumin in Health and Disease reviewed 1500 papers published over the past 50 years. Some of these articles discussed the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin among other pharmacological applications. 3

So there is scientific research showing the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric curcumin. From my personal experience I feel that this natural product does work.

A 2011 Huffington Post article on turmeric by Dr. Andrew Weil discusses the health benefits of turmeric and curcumin. Dr. Weil advocates eating turmeric in your diet over concentrated supplements. However he also states “On the other hand, curcumin appears to have a more rapid and dramatic effect, and may be the better choice as a therapeutic (rather than a preventative) preparation.”

Like all substances some people experience side effects at various doses. This WebMD article discusses the benefits, side effects and possible drug interactions. Turmeric is generally safe but you should read the article if you have any health conditions and plan to take large doses over a prolonged period of time.

Health on Sale

When I originally wrote this article in March of 2014 Wholefoods sold Tumeric – elixir of life. 32 oz bottles sold for $11.99 and were on sale for $8.99, so Health on Sale seemed appropriate and catchy.

I bought three bottles, Turmeric Pineapple, Coconut Nectar and Japanese Matcha . In the parking lot I popped open the Pineapple and hauled down what I estimated to be 12 oz of juice. I kind of felt like a wino who can’t wait to get out of the parking lot before getting his fix.

turmeric curcumin
Courtesy – Happy Happy Vegan

Similar to Dr. Weil, I’m an advocate of using food as medicine. Why take vitamin C when you can eat a delicious orange? Vitamins and minerals in their natural form are more likely to have all of the other nutrients that our bodies need to properly absorb them. The chemistry of nutrition is complex and our bodies evolved to extract what we need from food.

I’m also an advocate of keeping things simple and natural if possible. I believe getting nutrition from food is the way to eat properly.  I’m not sure I’d want to eat turmeric in its natural state and apparently our ancestors felt it was best ground up in a curry sauce.

 

Happy Happy Vegan has a great post on turmeric and curcumin. The article has great information on ways to consume turmeric and curcumin, how to buy, prepare and store turmeric.

And going back to my preference to consume nutrients naturally, they list several recipes to help you enjoy great food and increase your consumption of turmeric.

turmeric curcumin
Courtesy – Happy Happy Vegan

In addition to buying ground turmeric or whole rhizomes, there are many supplements on the market. While it’s difficult to determine the potency of fresh turmeric, supplements list their potency on the bottle. But there is more to it than just numbers.

This 2019 Smart Review article discusses what you need to look for when considering turmeric supplements. If you are interested in supplements and more information on turmeric curcumin, this article and the Happy Happy Vegan blog post will be helpful for you.

Run well my friends!

Andy

Sources

1 – https://smarter-reviews.com/article/sr-history-of-turmeric

2 – https://www.livescience.com/54901-free-radicals.html

3 – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321619953_The_Molecular_Targets_and_Therapeutic_Uses_of_Curcumin_in_Health_and_Disease

4 – https://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-weil-md/turmeric-health-have-a-happy-new-year_b_798328.html

5 – https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-662/turmeric

6 – https://happyhappyvegan.com/turmeric-curcumin/

7 – https://smarter-reviews.com/lp/sr-turmeric?tr=Axm1a&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxJSM6LrS4AIV0-DICh2GsQLXEAAYASAAEgJqF_D_BwE

 

Half at The Hamptons 2014 Recap

The Half at the Hamptons 2014 has been successfully completed!

I woke up at 5AM on Sunday and was ready to go. Many of you probably saw my fully clothed selfie from around 5:30AM. This was after I made a cup of tea AND took a shower. I was ready to go!

Running The Half at the Hamptons

I drove up to Hampton Beach with Gail and Cynthia. We got there in plenty of time but had to pay $20 to park in a lot that we normally park in for free. With all of the recent snow, parking spaces were in short supply. We got our numbers and race shirts and headed back to the car for final race prep.

We headed for the race start around 9:45. As we walked over the girls went off on their own so they could run together. They figured I would run a faster pace and finish way ahead. They wanted to hang back with the crowd and not get caught up in a faster pace group.

half at the hamptons

I thought I was lining up at the back of the heard. I saw where the crowd started and thought I would move up before the race started. Several other races I’ve run out of Hampton Beach head south and then loop around. This race headed north! Yikes.

What I thought was the end of the pack was the front!

Continue reading “Half at The Hamptons 2014 Recap”

National Physical Activity Plan

What is the National Physical Activity Plan?

health, fitness, exercise, National Physical Activity Plan

The National Physical Activity Plan is a comprehensive set of policies, programs, and initiatives that aim to increase physical activity in all segments of the American population. The Plan is the product of a private-public sector collaborative. Hundreds of organizations are working together to change our communities in ways that will enable every American to be sufficiently physically active.

The Plan aims to create a national culture that supports physically active lifestyles. Its ultimate purpose is to improve health, prevent disease and disability, and enhance quality of life.

This program is sponsored by organizations such as the American Medical Association, Road Runners Club of America, YMCA of the USA and several Universities. The program was developed with input from a wide section of society including business, public health, healthcare and academia.

Continue reading “National Physical Activity Plan”