Senior Health

9/7/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Age isn’t just about how many years you’ve been alive. Really! When it comes to our chronological vs. biological age, there are a lot of factors to consider. But what is chronological age? What is biological age? We explore how to answer these questions, and determine your two distinct ages.

Have you ever heard someone (usually an older person) remark that age is just a number? Did you wonder what they meant by that? Well, there’s more than a modicum of truth to what they are saying.

Our chronological age, the number of years we have been alive, usually doesn’t match our biological age, which has little to do with the date of birth on our driver’s license and much more to do with our cells.

Here are a few surprising facts.

The length of your telomeres might be an indicator of your biological age

Telomeres are sections of DNA at the ends of each of our chromosomes. They protect the chromosome ends and the DNA within them. Telomeres can shorten over time because of oxidative stress from smoking, poor diet, and stress. Several studies suggest that longer telomeres could mean a lower biological age.

Everyone has two separate ages

That’s right! We all have two distinct ages: our chronological vs. biological age. And while we have no control over how many years, months, and days we have been walking on the planet, we can influence our biological age, also referred to as our physiological age.

For the most part, how we age is beyond our control. The aging process is primarily influenced by genetics. As your family doctor will tell you, nothing beats a good set of genes. However, your genetic makeup is only part of the story. Researchers have found that external factors also play a role in determining your biological age.

Exercise, diet, stress, and sleep can affect your biological age

According to recent studies, a few dietary changes and some lifestyle adjustments can quickly reduce the signs of biological aging. Here are the findings:

  • Switch to the Mediterranean diet: People who follow this eating plan have a 30% lower likelihood of having vascular issues. Also, the diet can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation thanks to its higher antioxidant content of Omega-3s, which directly affects telomere length.
  • Exercise regularly: It’s no secret that moderate exercise has multiple benefits for our health. However, studies also show that exercising for 45 minutes, three times a week, can protect your telomeres from shortening and help you fight the aging process.
  • Manage stress: Although scientists are not certain why stress shortens telomeres, individuals who suffer from acute or chronic stress, especially those who are depressed, have lower telomere length when compared to people without psychological disorders.
  • Get enough sleep: If you sleep fewer than seven hours each day, you could be at risk for shorter telomeres. Adults over 70 years of age with sleep disorders show the shortest telomeres.
  • Stop smoking and cut down on alcohol consumption: Smoking and excessive alcohol use can boost your biological age. Avoid smoking altogether and try to reduce at least the amount you are drinking.

You can calculate biological age at home

While a professional diagnosis is the most accurate way to determine your biological age, you can get a rough estimate with a few simple tests:

  • Physical conditioning: A lower resting heart rate shows your heart is strong. A normal heart beats between 60 and 100 times per minute. Check yours by placing the first two fingers of your right hand on the inside of your left wrist. Count the beats for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 for your heart rate. Subtract one year from your chronological age for anything under 50 and add one for 100 beats per minute or more.
  • Strength: Do a series of modified push-ups (on your knees) without stopping. Keep going until you can’t do anymore. Add one year if you did fewer than ten push-ups. Subtract one if you did at least twenty. Subtract two for more than thirty.
  • Flexibility: Sit on the floor with your back straight, legs together, and arms out in front of you at shoulder level. Mark the spot below your fingertips and reach forward. Then mark where your fingertips end up and measure the distance between the marks. Add one if you reached 5 inches or less. Subtract one if you got 10 inches or more. Anything in between indicates no change.
  • Or: Try the biological age calculator here.

Remember, even though heredity controls much of your biological age, you can lower it with a few simple dietary and lifestyle changes that include an improved sleep schedule and regular moderate exercise. When it comes to your chronological vs. biological age: you can help determine it yourself!

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff