Did you know that your health age can be different to your actual age? Even though we might have an actual age, depending on how healthy we are, our health age can be entirely different. For example, you might be 30 with a health age of 27 if you’re very healthy but if your health needs some improvement, it might actually be around 35. There are a few factors that affect your health age, which can be worked on in order to decrease the number of your health age.
Here we look at some of the contributing factors, and how they affect your health age. The most important thing to note is that these can always be improved through moving more, eating well and focusing on living a healthy lifestyle.
Body Mass Index and your health age
Your Body Mass Index, or BMI, is essentially a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy. Your BMI can be an indicator of your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke, and so is a useful general indicator of healthiness. Having a healthy BMI is one of the most integral components of having a good ‘health age’ – if your BMI is high, then the age of your health is likely to be higher than your real age, too. You can calculate your BMI using this tool.
Cholesterol is, put simply, a fatty substance in your blood. Cholesterol in and of itself is ok, but if you have a high cholesterol level this could be cause for concern – too much cholesterol can block up your blood vessels, making you more likely to have heart problems. High cholesterol is caused by eating fatty food, not getting enough exercise, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol and it can also run in families. High cholesterol is a big factor in your health age compared to your real age.
We all know that exercise is good for you, but not all of us actually know why. Physical activity strengthens your heart, improving your circulation, thanks to the increased blood flow it generates raising the oxygen levels in your body. This lowers your risk of heart disease and other conditions such as high cholesterol and coronary artery disease. If you make sure to get regular physical activity in regularly every week, it can also lower your blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Taking part in physical activity on a regular basis is one of the best ways to ensure you are staying healthy and keeping the age of your health low.
Smoking’s effect on your health age
Smoking has extreme effects on your health, and therefore it is advised that you aim to quit smoking completely or work to gradually reduce the amount you stop until you quit. Tobacco contains more than 5,000 chemicals – many of these cause cancer, others are poisonous – when smoking, these chemicals damage the lungs, pass into your blood and spread through your body. In terms of affecting your health age, smoking is one of the biggest factors – on average, smokers live 10 years less than non-smokers.
If you want to see how your health stacks up to your real age, try using our simple tool to calculate your Vitality Age. Your Vitality Age will take into account the factors we’ve discussed in this article, and will help you to understand more about your health.
To find out more about the factors that determine our health, read our article about what you need to know about high blood pressure.
As a Vitality member, you could get a Vitality Healthcheck or a Bluecrest Health Screening. Available with eligible health insurance, life insurance and investments plans. Log in to Member Zone for the details.