The vagueness of biological age
How “young” or how “old” you are can be a relative term, and may actually change from week to week depending on your situation. A 60 year old in 2019 is very different than the 60 year old who lived in the 1980’s. It may be necessary to define the time period when you say you “feel” like a 60 year old, since 60 year old adults were rarely around even 200 years ago, but are thriving in the present time. Biological age is used more and more frequently today to determine your health status, and could be a good starting point to motivate change.
The basis for biological age is a combination of life factors, such as physical function, metabolism, immune system status, and mental function that together creates an equivalent hypothetical age that may be more accurate of where you are at this point in your life, rather than the age determined by your date of birth (chronological age). Your biological age also depends on which methodology you use, and can vary depending on what criteria is included in determining that biological age.
For example, if you are a 60 year old female (chronologically) but have a biological age of a 30 year old, that might sound great at the outset. But not every 30 year old females are equally healthy or equally capable physically. You see, biological age is still a relative term depending on the type of 30 year old you are comparing yourself to. Is it an active, healthy, athletic 30 year old? Or is it a sedentary, occasionally active, overworked and over commuted 30 year old professional who works at a desk most of the time?
Generally speaking, biological age is term that gives you a sense of life’s expectancy at that particular point in time. If today you are a 60 year old with a biological age of 40 (that’s good, by the way), then perhaps you are expected to live the remainder of your 60 year old life like a 40 year old would, with all the expectations of that 40 year old…such as having the energy or capacity to work like a 40 year old would.
Some methods of biological age use only body composition as a criteria, and uses your current age to compare your body fat and muscle mass to that of someone at another age. For example, a 40 year old male steps on a scale that measures the body mass index (BMI), then reports that their biological age is 50 years. Doesn’t sound good does it? That system assumes that a 50 year old person has a poorer BMI value of that of a 40 year old. I know many people at every age who are healthy and are thriving, functioning, and posses the energy to work and play with great satisfaction, and their age is irrelevant. Instead of comparing yourself to a hypothetical person at a certain age, ask yourself the following…
Do you have the energy to work, exercise and play as you see fit?
Do you sleep well?
Is your weight a risk factor for disease? Are you over or under your ideal weight for your functional capacity?
Are your relationships healthy, productive, and fulfilling?
Is your environment at work or home stressful?
Are you finding joy in using your gifts and abilities?
Do you enjoy your job or career?
Do you manage stress well?
Does your schedule have balance for your personal goals?
How do you treat others?
How is your health?
Can you sustain your lifestyle with your current finances?
How do you spend your free time? Do you even have it?
How do you express creativity?
Having a younger biological age than your chronological age is generally a good status, but a vague indicator that can lead to complacency. Choose quality of life, and be motivated by prevention instead of crisis response. I propose that each person can pursue the best version of themselves at ANY age, and be proud of the accomplishments and experiences at the age that they are in. Ask yourself the above questions and make lasting changes, one choice at a time!
Dr. Adrian Pujayana has been providing drug-free solutions for health and wellness to adults, athletes, and youth since 2000 through his private practice at Family Chiropractic Center of South Pasadena, a place for strength training and nutrition based health care.