What is your age – your real age? While nearly everyone knows their birth date, a body can look and function like that of a significantly younger or older person depending on physical condition and lifestyle. That is to say, your chronological age might be quite different from your biological age. While there is no scientifically accurate gauge for biological age, you can get some sense of where you stand by measuring yourself. Test your conditioning, body composition, and lifestyle to determine whether you are living a healthy, more youthful life or beyond your years.
Testing Physical Conditioning
1Find your resting pulse rate. The heart is one of the body's most important organs, and a well conditioned and healthy heart is a big part of overall well-being. A normal heart usually beats at between 60-100 times per minute. Your own rate should ideally be no faster or slower than this when resting, though some elite athletes beat below 50 per minute. Place the first two fingers of your right hand on the inside of your left wrist just below your thumb, over one of your major arteries. You should feel a pulse. Count the number of heart beats for 15 seconds and then multiply that number by 4 for your heart's beats per minute.
- In general, a lower resting rate indicates that your heart is strong. Higher rates mean that your heart has to work harder to do the same amount of work – it is weaker and less efficient.
- Add 1 to your chronological age if your resting pulse rate is 100 beats per minute or more.
2Test your flexibility. Can you still touch your toes? Flexibility declines as we age and can be limited in older bodies by a number of factors like increased dehydration, changes in the chemical structure of tissues, loss of muscle fiber with collagenous fibers, and increased calcium deposits. Your flexibility will give you some sense of your overall health. Sit on the floor with your back straight, legs together, and arms out in front of you at shoulder level. Beside your legs, mark on the floor the point directly below your fingertips and then slowly reach forward, keeping your legs straight. Mark where your fingertips reach and measure the distance between the two marks in inches.
- How far did you reach? The farther the better, as it shows that your body is still spry and youthful.
- Add one if you were able to reach less than 5 inches. Subtract one if you got 10 inches or more. Neither add nor subtract if you were between 5 to 10 inches.
3Test your strength. How strong are you? In general, people gain muscle up to the age of about 30. Afterwards, however, we start to slowly lose muscle mass and, hence, physical strength. People over 30 who are inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade, and even the physically active lose some. This loss of muscle mass – called sarcopenia – means a loss of strength and mobility and, in the elderly, can increase the risk of frailty, falls, and bone fractures. Test your own strength. Do as many modified push-ups (on your knees) as you can without stopping, keeping your body in a straight line and lowering your chest within four inches of the floor. Keep going until you can do no more.
- Like flexibility, more strength is better. If you were able to do a high number of push-ups, you probably have a good deal of muscle mass and physical endurance.
- Add 1 if you did less than 10 push-ups. Neither add nor subtract for 10-19. Subtract 1 if you did reached twenty push-ups. Subtract two for more than 30.
Measuring Body Composition
1Determine your waist-to-hip ratio. Is your body shape more pear, apple, or avocado? We tend to gain weight as we age, and a person's shape and particularly their waist-to-hip ratio is a quick way to assess body fat distribution, which can indicate possible health risks like high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke, and some kinds of cancer. Divide your hip measurement (in inches) by your waist measurement (in inches) and then divide the two numbers. Make sure to measure your waist from about two inches above the navel and your hips from their widest point.
- For waist-to-hip measurement, a ratio of more than 1.0 for men and .85 for women indicates that you are carrying a more than ideal amount of body fat around your mid-section.
- Add 1 to your score if you exceed the recommended ratio.
2Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). Your body mass index or BMI is another way to measure your body's makeup, dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters. A high BMI can indicate a high amount of body fat, leaving you susceptible to obesity-related health problems. To calculate your BMI, first multiply your weight in pounds by .45 to convert to kilograms. Multiply your height in inches by .025 to convert it to meters. Square your height (i.e. multiply it by itself), and lastly divide your weight in kilograms by your height squared. This is your BMI. A result of 25 or over is considered overweight.
- For the non-mathematically inclined, you can also find websites online like this one that will calculate for you.
- Add 1 to your score if your BMI is under 18.5 (underweight). Add 2 is it is between 25-29.9 (overweight) and 3 if it is more than 30 (obese). Subtract 1 if you fall between 18.5 and 25 (healthy).
3Do a body fat analysis. The most accurate way to judge your body composition – more so than either hip-to-waist ratio or BMI – is by body fat analysis, and the most accurate way to do this is by bioelectrical impedance. During such a test, which you can do with a sports trainer, you will lay down and put two electrodes on your foot. Then, an electrical current will be sent through your body. This current is very small – you won't even feel it. The test will then provide an accurate readout of how much fat your body contains as opposed to lean tissues like muscle and bone, as well as how you compare on average to others.
- To get a good reading you should not have exercised, used a sauna, or consumed alcohol in the previous hours. Women should have more body fat than men.
- For women, neither add nor subtract if your percentage lies between 15%-24% and add .5 for 25%-33%. Add 1 if you are under %15 or over 33%.
- For men, neither add nor subtract if your percentage lies between 6%-17% and add .5 for 18%-24%. Add 1 if you are under 6% or over 25%.
1Calculate your nightly sleep. The human body needs sleep. Sleep gives your brain and body the opportunity to rest and repair themselves, while a lack of sleep puts you at risk of higher blood pressure, kidney disease, stroke, and obesity. Lack of sleep also impairs your cognitive function. How much sleep do you get per night? The average adult needs between 7 and 8 hours per night. Getting less than that on a regular basis can make you haggard, mentally tired, and physically older.
- Subtract .5 from your score if you regularly get between 7-9 hours of sleep. Add 1 if you between 5-6 hours of sleep or if you sleep more than 9 hours per night. Add 2 if you get less than 5 hours per night.
2Own up to your vices. How much alcohol do you drink? While a moderate amount of alcohol is fine, perhaps even beneficial, too much can put you at risk of certain cancers, stroke, high blood pressure, liver disease, and pancreatitis. According to the Mayo Clinic, healthy drinking is no more than one drink per day for women of all ages and two per day for men 65 and younger, one for those over 65. A drink is measured differently for beer (12 fluid oz.), wine (5 oz.), and liquor (1.5 oz.). What about smoking? Medical science is very clear on this: any smoking (even second hand) is harmful to your health. Indulging in smoking or too much alcohol will definitely elevate your biological age.
- For alcohol, subtract 1 from your score if you don’t drink. Subtract .5 if you stay within the daily recommended guidelines. Add 2 if you exceed the guidelines.
- For smoking, subtract 3 from your score if you do not smoke and never have. Subtract 2 if you quit five or more years ago and 1 if you quit in the last four years. Add 3 if you currently smoke.
3Quiz your nutrition. How well do you eat? Proper nutrition keeps you in good health with strong muscles, bones, teeth, and organs. A good diet can reduce your risk for diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood-pressure. It can also keep your mind sharp and your body full of energy. How do you stack up? A well-balanced diet should limit fried and heavily processed foods, sugars, sodium, nitrates, and saturated fats; it should contain lots of fruits and vegetables (ideally 9 servings per day), lean protein like fish, chicken, and nuts, and complex carbohydrates and whole grains. Failing to include these items in your daily meals gain cause you to gain weight but also deprive you of necessary nutrients, leaving you physically weaker. Visit the National Health Service’s webpage at http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Healthyeating.aspx to see the basic guidelines.
- Neither add nor subtract if you meet the guidelines most days. Add 1 if you do not.
How can I calculate health?User ContributorThis is quite a broad topic. Factors which affect health are weight, calorie consumption, blood sugar levels, cardiovascular endurance, your vitamin levels, and blood pressure.
- Keep in mind that if you have exercised recently, are moving, or are anxious or angry, your heart rate will be elevated and increase your body age calculation.
Sources and Citations
- ↑ http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/new-way-test-your-biological-age
- ↑ http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/heart-rate/faq-20057979
- ↑ http://web.mit.edu/tkd/stretch/stretching_3.html
- ↑ http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/sarcopenia-with-aging
- ↑ http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/risks
- ↑ http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=776
- ↑ https://www.virginactive.co.uk/active-matters/health-tools/waist-hip-ratio
- ↑ http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/Pages/bmi-calculator.aspx
- ↑ http://extoxnet.orst.edu/faqs/dietcancer/web2/twohowto.html
- ↑ http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~ens304l/bia.htm
- ↑ http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why
- ↑ http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/howmuch
- ↑ http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/alcohol/art-20044551?pg=2
- ↑ http://betobaccofree.hhs.gov/health-effects/smoking-health/
- ↑ http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/
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