Are You Physically Phfft?*

Aerobic_exerciseIf someone asked you, “Are you physically fit (healthy, especially from exercise)?” what would you say? That question is easier to answer today because a group of scientists have created a new way – called fitness age – to measure physical fitness.

If you are physically fit, you will probably live longer. And if you are physically fit, you have lower risk (negative possibility) of experiencing anxiety (worry), depression, heart disease, diabetes (disease in which there is too much sugar in the blood), certain kinds of cancer, and high blood pressure.

There are several aspects (parts) to physical fitness, but aerobic fitness – the ability of your heart and lungs to supply oxygen-rich (containing a large amount of oxygen) blood to your body – is one of the most important.

Measuring aerobic fitness usually requires special equipment. But a recent article in the New York Times describes how a group of scientists in Norway worked together to find a simple way to measure aerobic fitness and estimate (measure approximately) fitness age – how well someone’s body works physically, compared to how well it should work at a certain age.

These scientists studied almost 5,000 people between the ages of 20 and 90. They made physical measurements, asked questions about their lifestyles (how they lived), and measured how well their hearts and lungs supplied oxygen-rich blood to their bodies.

When the scientists studied the data (pieces of information) they had collected, they found that they could estimate a person’s fitness age by putting five measurements – age, gender (male/female), waist circumference (distance around the middle part of your body), resting heart rate (how fast your heart beats when you’re resting), how often you exercise, and how hard your exercise – into a special formula (a set of calculations, like addition).

They used this formula to create an online calculator that anyone can use to find their fitness age and learn how fit they are. If you are typical (like most people your age), your fitness age and your actual age will be the same. If your physical fitness is poor, your fitness age will be higher than your actual age. If it is good, it will be lower than your actual age.

If you’d like to get an estimate of your fitness age, take a few minutes now to try the calculator. All the instructions you need are on the web page.

How did you do? I was happily surprised by my fitness age. I expected it to be lower than my actual age – many of you will remember that I do a lot of bicycle riding – but it was even lower than I expected.

If you would like to lower your fitness age, the good news is that you can do it, no matter how old you are, with aerobic exercise. If you’d like to lower yours, this short article by Covert Bailey can help you get started. One of his books helped me begin to get fit many years ago.

*The title is a joke. Years ago, when I started exercising regularly, a friend gave me a t-shirt with this phrase – Physically Phfft – on it. “Phfft” sounds like the word “fit” without the “i”. It’s an expression some people use to describe something that ends or fails in a disappointing way – for example, “I wanted to go to the beach with my friends, but my plans went phfft when they decided not to go!” Hopefully, all of us are physically fit, not phfft!

~ Warren Ediger, ESL tutor/coach and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.


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19 Responses to Are You Physically Phfft?*

  1. Dan says:

    Hello Warren

    I did get a good score, younger than my age.

    My heartbeat is exactly 60 per minute with a waistline of 85 cm. just to give out something about myself.

    Something I like to eat are onions. Do you guys like onions? Anyone else here loving onions? I eat a couple almost every day.

    I love a good sandwich filled with onions just little bit browned on a warm pan.

    That is easy, simple and cheap as well, but very good. And the smell of onions when just tossed on the pan?

    Thank you Warren.

  2. Alan A. Santos says:

    I love onion too, I can’t eat any food without onion, I’m addicted to it.

  3. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    Not only onions are good taste, but garlic, salt, and spices of every kind as long as they are not poisons. As to fitness, of course to do exercise regularly is a good habit that must be followed by everyone. It is like to get used to do something tiresome every day at the same time. Being wet by sweat is a good thing, but you must not overdo exercise because you can get hurt and instead of being good for your health it can become harmful. Going to bed early, waking up early in the morning is good style of life. To walk a distance in half an hour, wearing light shoes, breathing pure air, taking a shower after the walk, are good advices. I am 72 and I don’t have complaints about my heart beating, about my good sleep at night, about my waist circumference, about my weight and everything is fine for me. Follow me and get a great lifetime.
    Aecio, from the place where no living ones are found.

  4. Dan says:

    Hi everyone

    Listen guys, I do not you but I like it Jeff’s personal touch at the already very good Lucy’s production.

    I enjoy when he tells us about personal experiences growing up and things like the one in ESL Podcast 947 – Seeing a Circus Performance
    at 12:50 when he says:

    “A Magician is a person who uses illusions to make you feel something is going on even though it really isn’t , sort of what a politician does..I think.”

    I am not sure, but in the same Pod. he tells us he had a happy childhood. It’s nice to hear that.

    Thank you guys

  5. emiliano says:

    Dear Warren, in fact I do not know but may be I am a physically phfft, yes that´s true if I think how many physicall exercise
    I have done along the years, nearly nothing, but about all this I have my own theory that doesn´t agree with the general
    thoughts about the matter.

    I do think everything depends from your own genetic inheritance and the kind of food you eat in your youth and along all
    your life. In fact we are what we eat, that´s the real idea I have about this subject.

    My father lives till 97 years, my mother till 93 and both of them were healthy till the end.
    They were of blood preasure low, and the heart rhythim of 60/70 so despite my mother has a weak mind
    at the end, not my father, the rest of her body health condition was really good just the same as my father
    despite he smoke for dozen of years.

    I do nont ever smoke, for nearly 20 years I don´t drink because the virus in the liver, that possible would be
    the cause of my end.

    My blood preasure is really good 6/7 – 13/14
    Heart rhythim 64
    Slender as I am 1,76 and my weight has been less than 65 kg for years, now since a year I am a little
    thick with 75 but I think it must be my right weight.
    I am eating more because last year wasn´t a good year for me because the liver treatment, but the
    food it is very healthy always, too much fruit, olive oil, onnions (too much yes like Dan), garlic, vegetables, less meat than fish
    but not too much both of them, and so forth.
    Every day for years and years I have an apple, oranges, and now kiwis but alos grapes.
    Plums, peaches, apricots, figs, figs, melon, pears as much as I can it depends if there are or not.
    Even cherrys and strawberries when there is the time for may, june and may be first days of july.

    I am not taken any medicine now ….being close to 70 years old, just a record as every one of my
    age close to me is taken several pills, for the preassure, cholesterol, and so forth.
    Triglycerides and cholesterol are also o.k. in my body…..? That´s incredible really, but not
    any excercise at all just like my father, and several days at home without putting a foot on the
    Madrid´s streets, why for?


    Now the street of Madrid are full of the streets of madrid are full of trash
    by the strike and even criminals released by law of Estrasburgo, and the judges here who have
    liberate all kind of criminals like terrorist, seial kilers, and paedophiles and murderers rapists.
    Along these days these kind of nasty people have been freed from prison because this Strasburg
    judges of human rights said so, just incredible but true. Rights of criminals but what about the
    persons murderers or the violated and murdered childs, girls or women?. They have already not
    any rights by these judges from Strasburg and here Spain.


    My father, my mother, and me never have been physical active about sports, in fact nothing.
    Only I like to swim and walk not too much.

    Everybody here said, you have to walk for two or three hours fast, drink two liters of water every day
    do some exercise, have healthy food, and of couse don´t be indoors for long.

    Healthy food and water, that´s all I have been doing for years and years, that´s all and I have not
    in mind to do anything more, why for if in the liver there are virus taking their place ?.

    So in my mind the rule is live as good as possible along the time you are alive, enjoy your time
    and just do what you like about taking care of your body health, ja, ja, as I made an intent
    last year and it wasn´t the best option because I have to stop the treatment fo all, in fact I was
    nearly dying trying to be healthy with a liver free of these so uncorfortable inhabitants, ja,ja,
    the experience was so bad that all intents to be off of them, the virus, or be more healthy are stoped
    for life, never best said.
    Without doing exercise all my measurements are O.K., being a long life expectancy test if it were not
    for the problem of the liver, ironies of life afgter all, it must be something wrong always to conduct
    us till the end, I do think so, but we mus be relaxed the end it will be sure for all, healthy people
    or not so healthy.

    Don´t you think so Warren?

    My best dear, interesting subject as always, and very sorry having to tell you somethings I like not
    to remember every moment.

    Just live everyday it is enough, that is the point I do think, as life is not guaranteed a single day
    more for any body of humans beings.

    emiliano you are doing what you did years ago, just writing to much and too long….SORRY my


  6. Myo ko ko says:

    Thanks for your post.
    And glad you found yourself younger in the body test you were in! 😉
    Of course, it is something to brag about being bodily strong and having strengths physically.
    Yes, riding bikes as a regular warm-up is a really good workout.

    Speaking of exercises,
    Walking is something that brings to you a good health, too, even if it doesn’t fetch fitness to your body.

    Today, with the advent of computers, people’s lifestyles have changed a lot.
    With the lack of movements of bodies, people who are working with computers
    are more prone to kind of serious and severe diseases than those working ‘uncomputerized.’

    Thanks Warren
    Without healthiness, there is no happiness literally, virtually and mutually.
    We know, happiness is the best thing we human beings can have and
    healthiness is the best thing we can ‘trust.’

    Myo ko ko
    A guy with six-pack. 😉

  7. Dan says:

    I am sure Emil would agree with me when I say that a good
    Exercise for the mind, soul, and heart is petting a Cat.

    Pick the Cut up, put it down.
    Again, pick it up put it down..

    It may be good for your lower back.
    Just choose a well fed Cat..


  8. Dan says:

    Hey Myo.

    I would say that the best thing is not happiness, but a state of, say, neutrality.

    You know, not happy, not the contrary, just in the middle it’s ok.

    As the time goes by, I am more convinced about that.

    Of course, I am speaking for myself.


  9. Dan says:

    A good radio program for the curious.


  10. emiliano says:

    Yes Dan, that´s true, I play every day several times with Gatufo and i go on the floor to play with him, also to brush his skin
    and take him up and down, even some time we dance together when the music is playing and the Cat is happy.

    That is incredible good excercise to the soul and mind but to the legs and arms too.
    Gatufo every morning say miauuu miauu because he wants his time with emiliano, playing together for a while one and
    again, and I laugh aloud seeing him jump after a ball or wanting to take a string that I move over his head.

    Sure, a nice good excercise.


  11. Dan says:

    Just got home back from the supermarket.
    Looking at the cheap plastic toys and plastic tree
    and Christmas decorations left me little depressed.

    What about you guys? Does that have the same effect on you?


  12. Myo ko ko says:

    Hi, Dan
    There you got it.
    This is what we need indeed!

    There is this thin fine line, what you call it neutrality, between black and white,
    happiness and sadness, being content and disappointed, feeling good and bad and so forth.

    If we ‘could’ rest on that subtle line and see the things as they are,
    we’re in for everything, I said, everything!
    But we know, it isn’t easy! You know, we are mentally phfft! 😉

    Of course, to try is for us.
    Thanks Dan, nice talkings.

    Myo ko ko

  13. Dan says:

    That is right Myo.

    Staying in the middle, or if you will, we can say
    at the right distance from everything.

    We have the perfect example just under our feet.

    Our beautiful planet! Just at the right distance from the Sun.

    Thank you Myo.

  14. Wang says:

    Hi Warren and everybody!

    At first, by hunch I sensed it wasn’t reliable after I had scanned my eyes thru the data of the aforementioned calculator. They merely require you to plug in your waistline data without concerning the measure

    of your height, how can it work? It’s funny that on a sobering thought I realize my feeling might be wrong because of my wrong-concept-engraved mindset. For example, to measure your BMI (body mass index)

    you would use either data, your weight and your weight. But often seeing weight in company with height doesn’t mean it must always come along with each other. 😉

    After that I was “wow” at the thought that how attentive, westerners, you are to your health. How the idea had crossed you mind? I mean you seem do all seem-to-be-needed research,

    from top to toe, to approach to not only a wealthy life but also a healthy life. On contrary, many Asians have been struggling for our lives day by day, we devote almost our free time into making more and more

    money :'( …I mean, I believe we also do such researches over here but not too intricate, dig too deep like you do…good for you, westerners 😛 …I hope we can soon catch up with you on that matter 😉

    I had heard people saying that we better take short, frequent sessions as exercising though. But I didn’t believe it. My simple thought was how can you work it out without doing it all-out, getting sweats?

    So I took 2 hour running, 3 times a week. But now with proven evidences from scientists, it turns out I was wrong :'( . Even with fewer sessions but as long as you don’t get bored of it,

    you would benefit from it down the road. And then, for a while, longer sessions will help you to get better results, boost up the benefits of it.

    The researcher recommended beginners to do exercise 3 or more times a day, and he insisted that lengthy sessions aren’t proper ones to stimulate your body, a lazy, long-sleeping body,

    to initiate various changes. I had this hard time as starting to take up this new hobby, exercise. I did jogging, push-up and sit-up and I had sore all over my body for the first couple of days

    (almost half month). Not only the pain, I also met the loneliness. Yes, loneliness! I would have given it up if I hadn’t kept reminding by myself the benefits of physical activities. Now, I can feel the changes.

    Most of the time, I’m up, not feel down as frequent as I did; be warier, be more active, flexible 😀 thanks for my goodness


  15. Dan says:


    PODCAST 948:

    Get motivated to listen to a motivational speaker in this episode about listening to a motivational speaker who motivates people to listen to motivational speakers.


  16. Lassana says:

    Hi Everybody,

    Thanks Werren for this impressive topic !

    Exactly, physical fit is important. I had stopped sport during several years, because I did trainings and I was too busy with that.

    Now, I continued a training, but one day per week I’m going to the swimming pool during about one hour. I think it’s very good for the body and the mind, I feel good and thin when I finished !

    I did not do the test, but It’s very interesting and I’ll do it once.

    See you soon.

  17. Tania says:

    Hi! Good, good joke, hoping all of us are physically fit, not phfft! Anyway a new word to me.

    Myo ko ko, do you even believe we all are mentally phfft, not fit?
    It’s a joke, isn’t it?

  18. Myo ko ko says:

    Hi, Tania
    I think I didn’t include this ‘collective pronoun,’ “all” in my sentence:
    “We are mentally phfft,” did I?! 😉

    Hope something got wrong! 😛

    Myo ko ko

  19. Betty says:

    Thanks Dear Warren,

    This is something new to me, a fitness age – how well someone’s body works physically, compared to how well it should work at a certain age.

    I am glad to hear that you and all our blog friends here are very happy with their fitness age, good to be fit and healthy.

    I wouldn’t want to find out my fitness age. What if they tell me some bad news? I’d rather not to find out. I think as long as I am breathing, that’s good enough.

    Just kidding, I also want to have a younger fitness age, but I don’t want all the hard work of workouts. I need to take things easy, young or old doesn’t matter.

    Many thanks again for reminding me about keeping fit. I will try to keep fit, one day.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

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