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What’s your fitness age?

The researchers evaluated almost 5,000 Norwegians between the ages of 20 and 90, using mobile labs. They took about a dozen measurements, including height, body mass index, resting heart rate, HDL and total cholesterol levels. Each person also filled out a lengthy lifestyle questionnaire. Finally, each volunteer ran to the point of exhaustion on a treadmill to pinpoint his or her peak oxygen intake (VO2 max), or how well the body delivers oxygen to its cells. VO2 max has been shown in large-scale studies to closely correlate with significantly augmented life spans, even among the elderly or overweight. In other words, VO2 max can indicate fitness age.

In order to figure out how to estimate VO2 max without a treadmill, the scientists combed through the results to determine which of the data points were most useful. You might expect that the most taxing physical tests would yield the most reliable results. Instead, the researchers found that putting just five measurements — waist circumference; resting heart rate; frequency and intensity of exercise; age; and sex — into an algorithm allowed them to predict a person’s VO2 max with noteworthy accuracy, according to their study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

The researchers used the data set to tabulate the typical, desirable VO2 max for a healthy person at every age from 20 to 90, creating specific parameters for fitness age. The concept is simple enough, explains Ulrik Wisloff, the director of the K. G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University and the senior author of the study. “A 70-year-old man or woman who has the peak oxygen uptake of a 20-year-old has a fitness age of 20,” he says. He has seen just this combination during his research.

The researchers have used all of this data to create an online calculator that allows people to determine their VO2 max without going to a lab. You’ll need your waist measurement and your resting heart rate. To determine it, sit quietly for 10 minutes and check your pulse; count for 30 seconds, double the number and you have your resting heart rate. Plug these numbers, along with your age, sex and frequency and intensity of exercise, into the calculator, and you’ll learn your fitness age.

The results can be sobering. A 50-year-old man, for instance, who exercises moderately a few times a week, sports a 36-inch waist and a resting heart rate of 75 — not atypical values for healthy middle-aged men — will have a fitness age of 59. Thankfully, unwanted fitness years, unlike the chronological kind, can be erased, Dr. Wisloff says. Exercise more frequently or more intensely. Then replug your numbers and exult as your “age” declines. A youthful fitness age, Dr. Wisloff says, “is the single best predictor of current and future health.”

NY Times

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What’s your fitness age?

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The best reasons to work out

Toned legs and a flat stomach aren’t the only benefits of working out. According to a research review in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, regular exercise can help cut your risk of more than 20 illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.

‘Exercise is essential for losing and maintaining weight loss,’ says sports scientist Nick Morgan, ‘but the other benefits are just as important.’ Here’s what exercise does to keep you healthy, happy and alive!

Brain

Staying active cuts your risk of dementia and age-related memory loss by increasing the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that makes memories. A 40,000-person Norwegian study found that those who engage in regular activity of any intensity are less likely to develop symptoms of depression.

Breasts

Brisk walking for as little as one and a quarter hours every week can help reduce oestrogen levels in the body, which may lower your breast cancer risk by 18 per cent!

Bones

Bone-thinning osteoporosis now affects around one in three women in the UK, according to the latest research. Taking part in a 45-minute Step aerobics class, three times a week, will help boost bone density, especially in your spine, legs and heels. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also reports that heavy resistance training may increase bone mass, as it places strain on the bones of the joint you are working.

Appetite

Intense exercise can reduce levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your appetite, while raising levels of the peptide YY, which lowers appetite. A study in the journal Appetite also found that a brisk 15-minute walk decreased chocolate cravings by 12 per cent.

Heart

Not only will exercise add about four years to your life, it can also lower your systolic blood pressure (the top number that measures your blood pressure while the heart is beating) by as much as five to 10mmHg (millimetres of mercury). This is as good as some blood pressure medications. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week.

Pancreas

Lifting weights and upping your lean muscle mass could lower your insulin resistance, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes. For every 10 per cent increase in muscle mass, the risk of pre-diabetes should drop by 12 per cent.

Gut

Three to five weekly workouts of 20-60 minutes of vigorous activity is an effective treatment for IBS, according to a Swedish study. Demanding workouts improve bowel movements, and relieve gas and constipation.

Sex drive

Around 20 minutes of cardio exercise gets your body aroused faster and more intensely for a bit of rough and tumble. Not only that, lifting weights can also cause testosterone surges, and women with more testosterone tend to be more aroused and enjoy sex more.

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The best reasons to work out

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Norwegian extreme outdoor clothing and ski brand, Bergans of Norway, has announced an exciting partnership with the Virgin STRIVE Challenge 2016. Taking place on 1 September, Sir Richard Branson, Holly Branson, Sam Branson and Innocent drinks co-founder Richard Reed, are amongst a few named from the inspiring core team of 25 that Bergans are supporting during their ultra-endurance challenge. The team will tackle a tough 30-day expedition hiking, cycling and trail running from the base of the Matterhorn in Switzerland to the summit of Mount Etna in Sicily in aid of the Big Change charity, with up to 250 participants joining them at various stages along the way.Big Change charity, established by Holly and Sam Branson, helps to catalyse positive change for young people and give them the essential skills needed to believe in themselves in order to drive change both in their own lives and the world around them. Bergans, with their Norwegian heritage of passion for the outdoors, are thrilled to announce their involvement in the Virgin STRIVE Challenge. 'As a company, we genuinely believe in the power of the outdoors to inspire and educate, so we are very proud and privileged to have been involved with supporting Big Change since its inception in 2012,' says Andy Nicolson, Bergans of Norway UK country manager.This year, the team behind the Virgin STRIVE challenge are travelling over twice the distance (2,300km!) compared to their previous triumph back in 2014, with high hopes of raising £1.5 million for Big Change.

Bergans partner up with the Virgin Strive Challenge 2016

Norwegian extreme outdoor clothing and ski brand, Bergans of Norway, has announced an exciting partnership with the Virgin STRIVE Challenge 2016. Taking place on 1 September, Sir Richard Branson, Holly Branson, Sam Branson and Innocent drinks co-founder Richard Reed, are amongst a few named from the inspiring core team of 25 that Bergans are supporting during their ultra-endurance challenge. The team will tackle a tough 30-day expedition hiking, cycling and trail running from the base of the Matterhorn in Switzerland to the summit of Mount Etna in Sicily in aid of the Big Change charity, with up to 250 participants joining them at various stages along the way.Big Change charity, established by Holly and Sam Branson, helps to catalyse positive change for young people and give them the essential skills needed to believe in themselves in order to drive change both in their own lives and the world around them. Bergans, with their Norwegian heritage of passion for the outdoors, are thrilled to announce their involvement in the Virgin STRIVE Challenge. ‘As a company, we genuinely believe in the power of the outdoors to inspire and educate, so we are very proud and privileged to have been involved with supporting Big Change since its inception in 2012,’ says Andy Nicolson, Bergans of Norway UK country manager.This year, the team behind the Virgin STRIVE challenge are travelling over twice the distance (2,300km!) compared to their previous triumph back in 2014, with high hopes of raising £1.5 million for Big Change.

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Bergans partner up with the Virgin Strive Challenge 2016

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