Never mind your birth date, how old are you really? Michelle Bateman crunches the numbers in Fitness First’s new BioAge test.
In the world of tabloid magazines, declaring a star’s “real” age, accompanied by an unflattering photo, is a useful shorthand for the toll taken by a lifetime of hard partying. Unlike chronological age, one’s “real” or “biological” age measures how well your body is performing for its years. Now, I’m far from celebrity material, and my lifestyle can barely be described as hard partying (hard working is a bit more like it), but given the chance to find out how my own “real” age stacks up against my chronological 34 years, I felt a mix of curiosity and anxiety. Would my good habits (a sensible diet, no smoking) outweigh the bad (too much stress and high blood pressure)?
There are numerous ways of calculating your real age, some more scientific than others (you can guess which the tabloids prefer). Fitness First does it through a BioAge test ($39.95), put together by the Human Performance Institute. Taking around 45 minutes, Fitness First personal training manager Liam Hammond measured my results in three areas: metabolic (body mass index, blood pressure), physical (aerobic fitness, muscle endurance, flexibility) and behavioural (stress, smoking, alcohol, nutrition).
Thanks to regular pilates, I blitzed the muscle endurance category, measured by your ability to hold a plank position (I lasted the full three minutes). I also scored well on the behavioural side, even – surprisingly – on the stress-related questions. The results of the flexibility test, however, have me running back to yoga class: I managed to reach a measly 30cm while sitting with my legs stretched out, putting me in the “poor” category for my age. Predictably, my blood pressure was also high (an alarming 152/108, although I put at least some of that down to anxiety over the test itself).
Finding out all these details about yourself can be fascinating, but of course, it’s what you do with the information that counts. While the test results come with a list of recommendations about goal-setting, diet and regular exercise, much more comprehensive information is available elsewhere about ways to shave off the years.
Dr Michael Roizen, for example, has written a series of best-selling “RealAge” books covering healthy eating, dieting and exercise, with an emphasis on making age-altering changes. His website www.realage.com is a useful starting point.
And my BioAge age? When the results were tallied up on the BioAge website, I clocked in at a girlish 30 years old.