Actual Age vs. Biological Age: Your Number and Your Body

How Your Lifestyle and Habits Affect Your Biological Age

Exercise can help lower your biological age.
Exercise can help lower your biological age. Marcy Maloy/Getty Images

Biological age, also called physiological age, is a measure of how well or poorly your body is functioning relative to your actual calendar age. For example, you may have a calendar or chronological age of 65, but because of a healthy and active lifestyle (avoiding longevity threats like tobacco and obesity), your body is physiologically more similar to someone with a chronological age of 55. Your biological age would therefore be 55.

Factors That Determine Your Biological Age

There are several ways that you can determine your biological age, but none are definitive or accurate. However, there are health factors that would give you years back on your average life expectancy. These include your:

  • Your Exercise Habits
  • Your Eating Habits
  • Your Stress Levels
  • How Often You Drink Alcohol
  • Your Education Level
  • How Much You Sleep
  • How Much You Have Sex

There are additional questions found in varying tests that purport to measure your biological age, but because the number is loosely based on your actual age and a host of factors that may or may not add years to your life, don't get too caught up trying to be specific. The goal is to put a focus on those habits that lower age expectancy and turn them into healthy habits that add to your life. If you eat well, exercise regularly (and sometimes vigorously), handle stress well, don't drink to much, are educated, sleep well, and regularly engage in intimate relationships and safe sex, you are sure to be healthier than most adults and thus be younger than your chronological age.

Heredity and Biological Age

Another major contributor to biological age has nothing to do with your habits. Heredity or your gene pool is responsible for your biological age. Just as disease runs in families, longevity does also. In those whose families have members living beyond 95 years of age, longevity may be yours not matter whether you follow certain healthy habits.

Location, Location, Location

Another important factor to your biological age is where you live. It's no secret that the environment and culture you live in is connected to healthy habits, but it's also tied to your safety, the foods you eat and so much more. Living in an area where there is longevity is contagious. While not an exact science, the concept of biological age can incorporate objective measures like resting heart rate, blood pressure, and visual acuity, as well as more subjective criteria like ease of performing daily tasks, muscle strength and general mobility.


Wahlin A., MacDonald S.W., deFrias C.M., Nilsson L.G., Dixon R.A.. "How do health and biological age influence chronological age and sex differences in cognitive aging: moderating, mediating, or both?" Psychol Aging. 2006 Jun;21(2):318-32.

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