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How can you measure your fitness and why is it important?

Have you ever wondered how fit you are? Are you fit for your age, and is your fitness improving? What impact does you current fitness have on your healthspan and lifespan? Being fit is a very broad term, but we can define being physically fit as our ability to carry out daily activities with optimal performance, endurance, and strength.

Physical fitness has 5 categories:

  1. Aerobic fitness - the amount of oxygen your body can take in and use to convert to energy

  2. Muscular strength - ability to move and lift objects

  3. Muscular endurance - ability to perform repeated actions against a force

  4. Power - ability to produce explosive strength

  5. Agility - ability to be fast and nimble

Each of these categories can be measured for an individual and compared to data for the rest of the population at that age. The result will tell you how fit you are in each parameter and identify areas for improvement.

Why is fitness important and what impact does your current fitness have on your expected lifespan? Your fitness determines your risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and other metabolic diseases, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

All of your fitness parameters will naturally decrease with age. Your VO2 Max - the measure of your aerobic fitness will decrease by 10% per decade and up to 15% per decade after the age of 50. Your VO2 max determines exactly what activities you are able to do. For example if at age 40 your VO2 max is 40ml/kg/min this is classed as good, and you are able to run at 12km/h on a flat surface. Without training your aerobic capacity will steadily decrease to 20ml/kg/min by age 75, and walking at 5km/h on a slight hill will be the maximum you can perform.

If however you continue to perform aerobic capacity training (for example running, cycling and swimming) throughout your life you can decrease the decline of aerobic fitness or even maintain the same levels.

Fitness test, VO2 max
Medical fitness assessment, VO2 max assessment
Many medical studies have shown that a fitter person will live a longer and healthier life, free of disease. For example an unfit person who has a VO2 max level (aerobic fitness) in the lowest quartile (0-25% of the population), can decrease their all cause mortality by 50% with a modest improvement of VO2 max to the quartile above (25-50%) of the population.

So how can we measure fitness and what can we do to decrease the natural decline? How can we maintain fitness and the ability to perform the things we love to do, and prevent the onset of chronic diseases?

The Longevity doctor Total Fitness Assessment™️ measures all 5 parameters of fitness and compares the results to the data from the rest of the population at that your age.

We can measure VO2 max directly in a fitness lab by measuring your heart rate, oxygen uptake and speed while on a treadmill. Alternatively, we can measure aerobic capacity indirectly using the Cooper test - how far you can run (or walk) in a 12 minute interval. Your VO2 max measurement is scored dependent on your age and sex (for example a VO2 max of 40 ml/kg/minute is classed as good for a 40 year old male, but the same result would be classed as excellent for a 65 year old male).

What can we do to maintain fitness? Being physically active in everyday activities (for example taking the stairs instead of taking the lift) as well as engaging in physical exercise such as running, cycling, gym classes and weight training is the best way to prevent the natural decline in fitness.

Your Longevity doctor lifestyle programme will include a fitness strategy to improve all 5 parameters to increase your healthspan and lifespan. You will be provided with a recommended weekly amount of zone 2 cardiovascular training, VO2 max training and resistance training to build muscle.

To find out more about the Longevity doctor health plans, Total Fitness Assessment™️, and lifestyle intervention plan please visit our health plans section.


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