Garmin’s Fitness Age is a metric that lets you know how fit you are compared to your actual age. There are a couple of ways this is calculated and it depends on which watch you own.
I’ve had a Forerunner 935 for several years. In my early 50s and with a Vo2Max that fluctuated between excellent and superior for my age, the watch would tell me my fitness was the equivalent to someone in their 20s. That was very nice to hear, even if it did sound a bit unrealistic.
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In late 2021 Garmin revamped the metric for a select group of watches. Now Fitness Age is not based only on your Vo2Max, but also on several other factors. It is also not as generous when telling you how old you are fitness-wise.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Garmin Fitness Age – a way of assessing your fitness
As mentioned, Garmin watches measure Fitness Age differently depending on which device you own.
Older Garmin devices continue to display Fitness Age using VO2 max. This is the simplified figure that is very generous when it comes to estimating how you compare with others. This metric can fluctuate quite a bit because the only factor it depends on is your VO2Max. Basically, all that metric does is reinterpret your VO2 max score in terms of age, in order to make it more relatable.
Perhaps this is why Garmin has revamped the metric for the latest crop of its watches to take account of Mayo Clinic recommendations. Their Fitness Age calculation takes into consideration activity intensity, resting heart rate and body fat percentage or body mass index (BMI). Lets refer to this as improved Fitness Age, or Fitness Age 2.0.
To view the metric simply go to Garmin Connect, select Performance Stats > Vo2Max > View your Fitness Age. On the web, you can find it if you go to All Activities > Vo2Max > View Your Fitness Age. On a compatible watch go to Menu > Health Stats > Fitness Age.
A benefit of the revamped calculations is that Garmin will spit out recommendations on how you can improve your Fitness Age. This could be by reducing your BMI, reducing Body Fat, increasing the number of Vigorous Days, lowering your resting heart rate and more. Below that Garmin shows which of your stats are “on target” for your age. Just keep maintaining those.
All of these contributing factors are self-explanatory and there are various things you can do to improve the metrics. It basically boils down to exercising regularly, eating well, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, etc.
The smartphone app and web software will let you view 7 day, 4 week and yearly charts on how your Fitness Age has changed. This is useful for following trends.
Watches with improved Fitness Age include:
- Fenix 6 and above
- Epix 2
- Forerunner 55, 255, 745, 945, 945 LTE, 955
- tactix 7 and Delta series
- Venu 2 and above
- Vivosmart 5
- D2 Air X10, D2 Mach 1
It is worth noting, you must have a Garmin Index Smart Scale (S1 or S2) to receive a body fat percentage measurement. Sure you can link up other scales to Garmin Connect but they will only sync weight, not body fat.
In that case Garmin will take your BMI into consideration instead of body fat. Which can be a bit misleading because you can have high BMI due to muscle, not fat. So for most precise Fitness Age calculations, it is recommended you link up a Garmin scale.
The other bit of bad news for those of us who have grown used to the old Fitness Age metric, is that it is not as easy to lower your Fitness Age. Garmin will spit out an Achievable Age which is up to 10 years lower than your actual age.
Which means, if you are in your 40s and 50s, no matter how hard you try Garmin will not say you have the fitness level of a 20 year old. Perhaps saying that would be a bit unrealistic, so it is just as well. I didn’t question it before because why would I not want to be as fit as someone so much younger. The improved Fitness Age metric “aged me” badly!
But this goes to show, you should not put too much stock into these types of calculations. A simple change in the way Garmin calculates the metric can vastly change your perceived Fitness Age. It is never a good idea to become addicted to these types of tools.
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