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.
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!
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.
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,