What's your fitness age?

Washington Post has an article about a simple Norwegian test for your “fitness age”. Older triathletes typically have a fitness age about 25 years below their chronological age. Mere mortals can get to 15 or 20 below just by exercising to the point of sweating every day.

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That’s nothing. I work up a sweat pedaling the exercise bike for 40 minutes. Then watch the noon news while I cool down, then get washed up and start my day.

In the summer, I walk around the 'hood for two miles. In the southern Michigan midsummer heat and humidity, I can work up a sweat before I have gone 100 yards.

Thing is, I only started the routine when I retired at 58. The “JCs” always seemed to figure they could get an infinite amount of work out of me, if they just beat on me enough. So, at the end of the work day, there was nothing left in the tank for an exercise routine.



I don’t think that matters. As long as you’re exercising today, that’s what counts.


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In a genuinely objective assessment, it probably does matter…much like financial “fitness”. The power of compound interest and all that. If one left saving for retirement until the late 50s, getting into financial shape for the senior years would look a lot different from the strategies most of us who’ve made smart choices (planned or inadvertent) from an early age have the freedom to use.

The problem with the test in the article is that the activity related questions don’t really require objective, measurable/measured answers…and a heck of a lot of how hard a bout of exercise can feel from the aspect of perceived exertion depends very much on level of fitness in the here and now (which depends upon what’s gone before…and so on…)

For but one of the many links I’ve posted on the topic…


Not a triathlete, CrossFit and gardening are my go to activities. Took the test. Chronological age 59 and fitness age of 43. I’m sure I got dinged for my BMI being overweight even though my body fat is below normal.

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60/48 chronological/test score. Not an impressive number of non-subjective questions, but it somewhat correlates with my recent cardiac scan that showed a heart age of 39.


I suspect that a lot of folk are going to be well below their chronological age…regardless of however unbelievable the number is. I’m 71 and allegedly 41 biological age. A sorry lookout for 41 year olds who want to be in my sort of shape when they’re my age, I say. My bodyweight, for example, doesn’t reflect the loss of fast twitch muscle fibers lost after my last lapiplasty and post-op (that I haven’t been able to fully recover) and the ones I’m losing just lying here.

I don’t even believe my Garmin when it estimates my VO2MAX and fitness age from that…but it’s interesting that the two (higher aerobic fitness/lower fitness age) changes just as you’d expect when we leave high altitude and spend time at close to sea level. Still a bit too miraculous for me to find plausible, however ego boosting.

Edit: I oftentimes like to see what my answer would be when I answer differently. Took the test again and only change was that I claimed that every workout was “full gas”. This go around I’m 35. What a crock. Anyone who knows anything about exercise science is well aware that exercising “almost every day” for an extended period at “full gas” is a fast track to injury, burnout and gets close to the point of not just diminishing returns but actually an increase in morbidity/mortality (the so called “reverse J-curve”) Of course, that depends what full gas means…different for a Sedentarian newly off the couch and someone with a track record of consistent, meaningful training


I was going to comment yesterday when I did the quick test, but decided not to because I essentially thought the test was a crock of sh1t. Mainly because it takes in so little data and uses it stupidly and too linearly. But @VeeEnn, you did a much better job explaining just why it’s a crock of sh1t. Lower bodyweight due to injury, leading to less exercise, results in a much lower number for “fitness age”. Meanwhile higher bodyweight due to lifting weights, leading to more muscle (about 3 times heavier than fat), causes a much higher number for “fitness age”. I ran my numbers a few times with different body weight to see the change in result. Also, nobody does all “full gas” workouts, that’s more likely to kill you than no workouts at all, not to mention that it’s literally impossible to do for any length of time. Nobody in their right mind would suggest doing 3 minute “full gas” workouts each day instead of doing 30 minute “getting sweaty” workouts each day.

@MarkR …well, it’s historically just about exactly this time of year that I had to work hard at condensing exercise science into acceptable “bites” to use in my fitness classes. The time of year when the gyms are full of folk who’re going to make this year the year for change…but who do exactly what they did every other year in an effort to burn calories etc.etc. Which usually means flailing away and Shaking Hands With Mr. Pukey in a SPIN class.

It’s very hard to convey the difference between actual workload and perceived exertion/relative intensity to someone who’s huffing and puffing and breaking a sweat but who’s barely generating the wattage to power a Christmas tree light bulb!

A buddy does “boot camp” workouts 3-5x/week.
He makes it sound like “full gas” … HIIT type body weight.
And, I think, about 45minutes per session.

He’s ~65 yo.
Always been 25-27 BMI. All his life.
It’s a source of pride that he keeps up with the young guys in the boot camp group.


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HIIT, by its very definition alternates higher-intensity segments with lower-intensity segments. That’s not really “full gas” is it?

I knew there would be dissension as to the meaning of “full gas”… So I clarified with HIIT.

There is “full gas” 100m dash. Which not even elite athletes would do for 30 minutes, (and is what I think you were referring to?).

Then there is full gas HIIT. Jacking HR over cardio in repeated cycles. And sweat. Lots of sweat.
This is doable for a reasonably fit person for extended time. Example: the old army “double time” marching.


Except HIIT means different things to different people…and a good many get it wrong. The levels of intensity that’re studied in the context of HIIT that make it seem so attractive to time crunched individuals are so grueling as to be almost unachievable by the average individual.

Not quite 100m dash…but the intensity that might feel like say best effort repeats of about 200-300 m. Where recovery between work effort is much longer. Always at above intensity (speed/power output/metric of your choice) at VO2MAX.

They’re so challenging and taxing and require a longer recovery between sessions such that elite athletes and those who actually can hack true HIIT sessions restrict them to once or twice a week.

Martin Gibala is an OG HIIT researcher and is of the opinion that the “HI” in HIIT doesn’t necessarily mean full gas. He’s okay with medium gas.

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really wanted to try the test, but the test inside the article wouldn’t come up for me.

I’ve been xc skiing as much as possible, having to do a man-made-snow loop due to lack of snow, although winter has come back pretty strong the last couple of days. Been doing a couple of different 15 mile “tests” on skate ski’s, one where I ski hard/steady with no breaks for 15 miles, and on a different day split it into 3 five mile “race pace” type efforts, with breaks in between ( I think of these as high intensity intervals. Obviously I can’t sprint for 5 miles, but going as hard as I can without blowing up ). So I think I’m doing pretty good, but would like to plug into the test in the linked article.


Does this one work? Same calculator but I found the link in a different article when I Goggled "Norwegian Fitness Calculator "…

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I get crazy results.

If I adjust my weight by 35 pounds which is where I am now going then 55 even though I am 60 otherwise 68.

Note I added this next paragraph when I reread this.
I think the problem is my pulse 63. The current weight ups the pulse. If I weighed less the pulse would be lower and better represent my fitness. Yep upon changing the pulse to 58 and my weight to 180 my age factor went down to 53. In that regard, I think the test is fair. Not perfect.

The advice is to walk daily. That is a big problem with this test. I stand for over 12 hours per day. I walk all day. I run up to the front door from my car at the bottom of the parking lot at work. No not a sprint a very good 6 mph run. I have no problem doing that and just breathe a bit harder.

The idea that if I walked more I’d get a better result is not true. I do more than that now and the test does not know that.

I did say exercise daily for over 30 minutes with some sweat.

I took up running last fall. This spring I pick it up again. I love it but I tightened up. I could not run the 3rd and 4th time but for half the distance.

I am now stretching it out and getting ready for spring.

My problem was in large part of my sneakers. I bought Hoka running shoes. Little did I know I bought the sprinting shoes. They roll forward as you stride. That led to me tightening up.

I bought Hoka long-distance sneakers last week. They are more flatfooted, rolling back a bit and raising their toe. That stretches out the calf muscles. My legs feel a lot better. I am running much faster and easier when I do that parking lot run. I am walking faster in these than ever.

I am a very fast walker. I leave the kids at work in the dust.

I can not get into what I do because I have to represent. I can say my standing desk converter gets a lot of use.

I was wondering about the linearity. I would guess that the curve is asymptotic. For example, the 75 year-old tested as 50. The average Norwegian male that age has a life expectancy of another 32 years. Does the 75 year-old guy expect to live to 107?


Well, the thing to remember is, it’s basically a non exercise way of trying to estimate what a given individual’s VO2MAX might be…and that’s possibly going to be very skewed in folk who’re getting older. One reason being that most folk who’re getting older right now and are not Norwegians with the lifestyle that most Norwegians of our ages have probably followed since birth, have probably “exercised” choices that don’t enhance VO2MAX or impact it negatively in a way that the Norwegians tested did not.

I’ve actually done 2 VO2MAX tests (which I have to say gives a person a LOT more insight into what HIIT is/might be/ than any imagined or perceived exertion description)…the more recent being just before my 60th birthday and I measured just over 45 ml/kg/min. Along with whatever genetic potential that reflects, it was also a reflection of a good 40+ years of systematic training…obviously brief interludes of not being quite so active when Life took priority, but none of the deconditioners that’ve become so prevalent for extended periods.

Just goes to show why objective measurement tells you a lot more than a thumbnail sketch offered by a proxy.

I think it also shows what a negative impact on longevity…lifespan and healthspan…excess bodyfat can be. Yes, I know the test only asks for weight and ignores body composition but, lets be honest, most overweight folk are overfat. We don’t have a nation of Ronnie Colemans and Bev Francises. Also a lower resting heart rate isn’t an automatic given that can be assumed to come with weight loss so, you might not get the age adjustment expected just by substituting numbers that don’t apply

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And another personal experience with me and generic calculators. Just putting my old lipid numbers into the ASCVD risk calculator, my estimated risk of an “event” over the subsequent decade was always low. Well, we know how well that served me on an individual level (and, if anyone doesn’t, speak up and I’ll clue you in)

Of course, those estimates have shown themselves to be “true”…up to a point (I haven’t had any symptoms or done a Jim Fixx … yet) …but I don’t think the ultimate outcome has been what anyone would expect for themselves or see it as anything other than supervised neglect (but I digress)

I’ve started to take the view that anything that looks “good” by means other than gold standard objectivity is overly optimistic and anything that looks bad is probably even worse!! Avoiding disappointment by aiming low, I guess