How old are you?
You may know someone who fits the description of being an old person in a young person’s body (aches and pains before their time), or visa versa; an older person seemingly defying the norm and competing in sport and activity dominated by adolescents and younger adults.
You may also be familiar with ‘metabolism’. Typically used in the context of nutrition and body weight. Someone described as having a “fast metabolism” is usually very active and seems to be able to eat a lot without gaining weight. Conversely, someone with a “slow metabolism” usually isn’t very active and feels like they gain weight easily; that’s the common understanding at least.
Consider two cars driving 100km; one with a V6 engine and the other with a V8. The V8 will use more fuel to cover the same distance. That’s metabolism – the rate and volume at which we convert fuel, measured in kcals (kilocalories).
The two tissues which primarily determine our metabolism or ‘metabolic rate’ are muscle and fat. A crude way of looking at it is that muscle tissue burns a lot calories whereas fat tissues stores a lot of calories.
High muscle mass + low fat mass = high/fast metabolism.
High fat + low muscle mass = low/slow metabolism.
These measures relate to the % Body Fat and Body Mass Index (BMI) your GP or health practitioner may refer to.
Age is unforgiving. Past about 30 years of age, the ratio of muscle to fat begins to shift in the wrong direction – we lose muscle and gain fat. Changing one is bad enough; both together is a double-whammy.
An electrical current passes through muscle, fat, water and bone at a predictable rate so we can quickly and easily calculate the volume of each tissue in a given body’s structure. From there our ‘metabolic age’ can be calculated. Like one of our class clients this morning, you could be 42 chronological years old, but have the body composition of a typically active 26-year-old, which is a very good thing!
If however the reverse was the case – being 26 with the metabolism of a 42 yr old, that wouldn’t be good scenario. Regardless of your goals in physical health, you need to know where you’re starting from.
Metabolic age and Body Mass Index is far from an exact science and it doesn’t work well for some individuals, but it is sufficiently accurate and valid to be a helpful indicator for the vast majority; like blood pressure.
A week before his heart suddenly gave up on him, my father proudly proclaimed “I’m the fittest 67 yr old you’ll ever meet”.
That may have been true, but in the *end* that’s not what counts is it…
Back pain doesn’t kill people, but cardiovascular disease does… in droves.
Join us on Sun September 11 at the Brickworks Inside Out event for a free body scan and find out your metabolic age.