How Fit Are You for Your Age?

How Fit Are You for Your Age?

Once you start regularly exercising, you may wonder about your fitness level and overall health compared to others in your age group. Even if you know that your ability to do push-ups has declined over the years, you may find that you have become more fit than most people in your age group.

Determining your fitness with accuracy may require a trip to the doctor to measure your pulse, VO2 stats, and speed. However, there are several methods used to rank athletes within specific age groups that only require a stopwatch and a few minor calculations. These methods may not be as accurate as a doctor's evaluation, but they'll give you a rough idea of your overall fitness.

Age Grading
Regular runners who want to evaluate their progress often use age grading to compare running times. After they run a standard race distance, they take their time and compare it to other people of their age and gender. The comparison tells runners how they'd fare in a race that includes both elite and beginning runners.

To determine the age grade, you must multiply your running time by a factor that takes your age into account. The age-factored number is then compared to the standard for your age. The resulting percentage tells you your fitness level and is called your performance-level percentage. For example, if your performance-level percentage is 90 percent or greater, you would be considered a world-class runner. However, if your performance-level percentage was only 60 percent, you would typically have a fitness level comparable to a local-class runner.

Keep in mind that age grading isn't a helpful indicator if you rarely participate in running. Swimmers or cyclists may be very fit, but their performance-level percentage may indicate only average fitness for running. However, age grading is a great way to determine if you are getting more fit over time. Purchase a running book with the age factors so you can easily calculate your results. Even if your best running times don't increase over the years, you may gain in fitness when compared with other athletes in your age group.

United States Army Physical Fitness Test
One simple way to assess your fitness level is using the tables used for the U.S. Army Physical Fitness Test. This fitness test requires participants to complete a series of push-ups, sit-ups, and a two mile run.  Each person is carefully evaluated according to the standard in their age group and their sex. In order to pass, they must meet 60 percent of the maximum expected in each event.

A 22 to 26-year-old male should be able to complete at least 40, and ideally, 75 push-ups. He should also be able to do at least 50 sit-ups and run two miles in less than 16 minutes and 36 seconds. Men in this age group who do not meet these standards are not eligible for military duty.

If you can pass this physical fitness test, you'll know that you're in good physical condition for your age. The U.S. military provides the tables on their website so you can evaluate your fitness level at home.

No matter how fit you are currently, regular exercise can help you retain your current fitness. Age-related decline in maximum exercise capacity can be as much as 3 to 6 percent in your 20s or 30s. However, once you are in your 70s, your aerobic capacity can decline by as much as 20 percent. Regularly exercising, according to one study, can raise your aerobic capacity by 15 to 20 percent. This increased aerobic capacity is equivalent to being 10 to 20 years younger. Therefore, paying attention to your overall fitness can greatly impact your health and how young you feel.

Fitness Tools

Are You Overweight?

Calculate your Body Mass Index

Your Height: ft. in.
Your Weight: lbs.

How Many Calories Should I Consume?

Use Our Calorie Calculator To See How Many Calories You Should be Consuming.