Biological age versus physical fitness age

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1989;58(7):778-85. doi: 10.1007/BF00637391.


A population of healthy middle-aged (n = 69) and elderly men (n = 12), who participated in a health promotion program, was studied to determine whether really physically fit individuals are in good biological condition, and also whether improvement of physical fitness in the middle-aged and the elderly reduces their "rate of aging". Biological and physical fitness ages of the individuals studied were estimated from the data for 18 physiological function tests and 5 physical fitness tests, respectively, by a principal component model. The correlation coefficient between the estimated biological and physical fitness ages was 0.72 (p less than 0.01). Detailed analyses of the relationship between the estimated biological and physical fitness ages revealed that those who manifested a higher ("older") physical fitness age did not necessarily have a higher biological age, but those who manifested a lower ("younger") physical fitness age were also found to have a lower biological age. These results suggested that there were considerable individual variations in the relationship between biological condition and physical fitness among individuals with an old physical fitness age, but those who were in a state of high physical fitness maintained a relatively good biological condition. The data regarding the elderly men who had maintained a regular exercise program indicated that their estimated biological ages were considerably younger than the expected values. This might suggest that in older individuals regular physical activity may provide physiological improvements which in turn might reduce "the rate of aging".

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Fitness*