What's Your RealAge?
~ A Feature Article by Michael F. Roizen, M.D. ~
RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be?
This article is based on the revolutionary new
book, RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be? by Dr.
Michael F. Roizen. RealAge is the culmination of years of
research into the aging process. Dr. Roizen and a team of
scientists and computer programmers analyzed the mortality
rates in over 25,000 medical studies to determine how our
behavior affects the aging process.
The result is the RealAge Test -- over 150 questions
about our habits and traits that yields a unique RealAge
for virtually every user. We all know people who look and
act younger than their years. Oprah Winfrey took the test
on a recent show, and learned her RealAge was more than six
years less than her calendar age. Dr. Roizen is 53, but his
RealAge is 38. If you were an average person, your RealAge
would be the same as your chronological age. But no one is
"average," so take the test for yourself and find out.
You can take a short version of the RealAge test at
RealAge.com, where you'll also find a vast library of
health-related information. Or you can take the full
version of the test in Dr. Roizen's book, RealAge,
available for purchase here or at RealAge.com. More information about the
book and Dr. Roizen follows the article below.
What's Your RealAge?
By Michael F. Roizen, M.D.
How old are you? How old would you like to be? What if I
told you, you can get younger? And, what if I told you it's
not that hard to do?
RealAge is a brand new scientifically valid system that
calculates your rate of aging. People of the same calendar
age are very often different ages biologically. That is,
some of us age faster than others. Notably, simple
behavioral choices make a big difference in a person's rate
of aging. Learn your RealAge. And learn what's been shown
scientifically that you can do to make yourself younger.
And it's easier than you thought
RealAge: The Net Present Value of Health Choices
Despite 30 years of advancement in our knowledge about the
relationship between health behavior and longevity,
preventive medicine has largely been a failure. Everyone
knows things that will help them live longer, healthier
lives -- exercising, eating a diet low in saturated fats,
taking vitamins -- but few actually do them. Fewer than 15%
of Americans get adequate amounts of exercise, even though
more than 90% of those surveyed say that exercise is
important to health Why is there such disparity?
Because the goal seems too remote. It is difficult to be
motivated to take actions today that have a pay-off 30
years down the line. Who will take calcium at 30 thinking
that there won't be a benefit until age 80?
Enter RealAge. RealAge is a way of giving a value to health
choices in the present. By using the economic concept of
Net Present Value, RealAge is able to place a "years
younger" value on present day health choices. For example,
exercising makes your RealAge as much as 9 years younger.
And, taking Vitamin C, D, E, Folate, B6 and Calcium
regularly can make your RealAge as much as 6 years younger.
A Currency for Health
We all know behavioral choices that are good for us, such
as taking vitamins, lifting weights, and wearing seatbelts.
We all know behavioral choices that are bad for us, such as
smoking, eating too much, and not exercising. But, how are
we to compare these vastly different decisions? RealAge is
a system which converts the associated risk of all these
behaviors into a single currency, the rate of aging. Some
choices make us older, and some choices make us younger.
RealAge shows just how much of a difference each choice
makes. Sure, we all know that flossing your teeth is good
for us, but did you know it can make more than a 6 year
difference in your RealAge? Or did you know that regularly
wearing a seatbelt can make a difference of as much as 3.4
years in your RealAge? RealAge provides a system for
valuing health choices. It gives you the information you
need to make informed decisions about your health
By taking the RealAge test, you can derive your own
RealAge. The test, which can be accessed on-line or in the
book RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be?, asks
questions about more than 125 health-related factors. Then,
from the answers you provide, you derive a RealAge that is
customized to you. Better yet, you can develop an Age
Reduction plan which will help you to slow the pace of
aging. You choose which Age Reduction strategies you want
to adopt, knowing just how much of difference each will
make in your rate of aging.
By reading the RealAge book, you learn just why and how
each behavior affects your rate of aging. Learn how
preventing arterial aging and immune system aging are the
two most important factors to help you stay young. Learn
what you can do to prevent the premature onset of
cardiovascular disease and what you can do to reduce your
risk of cancer. The disease-paradigm so long used by the
medical community makes little sense when talking about
conditions that have to do with the breakdown of the body.
Rather, these conditions are signs of aging. By learning
how different behaviors affect your rate of aging, you have
the information you need to begin slowing -- and even
reversing -- the rate of aging.
Not In The Genes
Although it might sound like snake-oil-medicine, age
reduction is not a fantasy. Despite beliefs that longevity
is largely determined by the genes you inherited, this is not true.
Approximately 30% of aging is genetically inherited. The
other 70% is affected by environmental causes and
behavioral choices. That means, you can largely shape the
way in which you will age. The vast majority of us do not
live as long as our genes would allow. By choosing to "live
younger," you choose to live longer -- and healthier all
along the way.
When you look at the rate of aging within any age cohort,
you see enormous variation between individuals. Some people
at 70 are sick and bedridden. Others are energetic, active,
and full of life. In fact, there is so much variation
within any age cohort that is virtually impossible to
arrive at an "average" for aging. The people who live
younger -- those who live at "the top of the curve" -- have
behavioral choices in common: they exercise, they eat a
diet low in saturated fats; they remain socially involved;
and they do many of the 44 other Age Reduction strategies
listed in the RealAge book.
In the book, we draw on more than 25,000 scientific
studies, all of which have been peer-reviewed and appeared
in the most prestigious medical and scientific journals.
Rather than presenting new scientific data, RealAge
provides a new way of interpreting already well-established
and respected clinical research, making it both accessible
and useful to a general audience. We present the most up-
to-date findings in every field, and do so in a way that is
readily accessible to everyone. That way we get the benefit
of the best research that the scientific community has to
offer, and the readers of the book get this research in a
form that's easy to understand and easy to incorporate into
their own lives.
How We Calculate the Numbers
Virtually all clinical studies include in their findings a
calculation of "mortality risk." These are well-accepted
and routinely used calculations of "risk factor
probability." It is the standard way in which scientists
extrapolate from empirical clinical studies to estimate the
risk of any health behavior to the general public. These
calculations estimate the 10-year mortality probabilities
of people who adopt any one behavior. For example, a 50-
year-old woman who smokes has a 10 year mortality risk of
0.88 -- that is, she has a 12% probability of dying in the
next 10 years. Likewise, a 58-year-old woman who doesn't
smoke has a mortality risk of 0.88 -- she also has a 12%
probability of dying in the next 10 years. These
calculations, although the standard in medical research,
are largely impenetrable for someone not trained in
statistics. A simpler, and more accessible way to say the
same thing is to say that the smoker has the same RealAge
as the non-smoker eight years her elder. That is, the 50-
year-old smoker has a RealAge of 58. The smoker and the
non-smoker have the same overall mortality risk. Just as
economists are able to translate risk probabilities into
"net present value," the RealAge calculations translate
"mortality risk" into RealAge. This mortality risk
calculation is the best measure we have of the underlying
biological condition -- or rate of aging -- of a person's
Better yet, RealAge is able to combine multiple health
risks into one overall number.
RealAge has only become possible with the advancement of
computing technology. Previously, scientists were only able
to gauge the risk of any single behavior, but were not able
to estimate the mortality risk of multiple, interrelated
health behaviors. For example, many smokers also do not
exercise or eat healthy diets. Yet, it has been virtually
impossible for researchers to untangle the
interrelationship between these behaviors. RealAge is able
to prorate the risk of different factors, combining the
risk calculations of multiple health behaviors within a
complex multivariable equation. Using the computing powers
of new high-powered computers and the latest in
multivariable statistical programming, the RealAge program
is able to show how the multiple health choices that any
one individual makes interrelate to affect that person's
overall rate of aging. The result: one easy to understand
number, a person's RealAge.
It's Easier Than You Think
Simple choices make a big difference in the rate of aging.
Choosing to take the right vitamins in the right amounts,
flossing your teeth, and wearing a seat belt every time you
get in a car are simple, easy choices that can make your
RealAge 6-8 years younger. Reducing your blood pressure,
becoming physically fit, and losing weight are harder
choices, but make a big difference in your rate of aging.
The pay off of these choices is not only in the future, the
pay off is now. Choosing to live healthier now means living
younger now. You actually slow the pace of aging. If you
are 50, but have a RealAge of 42, you are living as young
as the average 42 year old. You have the added energy and
You can live younger. And it's not that hard to do.
Take the RealAge test and find out:
What's your RealAge?
Top 10 Ways to Reduce Your RealAge
- Take your vitamins. Regularly taking Vitamin C (400 mg/3
times a day), Vitamin E (400 IU a day), Calcium (1000-1200
mg/day),Vitamin D (400 IU/day), Folate (400 mg), and
Vitamin B6 can make your RealAge 6 years younger!
- Quit Smoking and avoid passive smoke. Smoking makes your
RealAge 8 years older.
- Know your blood pressure. A person with low blood
pressure (about 115/75 mm Hg) is as much as 25 years
younger than a person with high blood pressure (over 160/90
- Reduce Stress. In highly stressful times, your RealAge
can be as much as 32 years older than your calendar age. By
building strong social networks and adopting stress-
reduction strategies, you can reduce the aging that stress
will cause by 30 of those 32 years.
- Floss your teeth. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy
can make your RealAge 6.4 years younger.
- Do all three components of physical activity. Exercising
regularly is one of the best ways to reduce your RealAge.
By adopting a 3-tiered exercise plan that includes boosting
physical activity to 3500 Kcal a week, building stamina,
and building strength with just 30 min of resistance
exercises a week can make your RealAge as much as 9 years
younger. Even a small amount of exercise -- for example,
two twenty minute walks a day -- can reduce your RealAge by
nearly 5 years.
- Wear your seatbelt. Regularly wearing a seatbelt can
make your RealAge as much as 3.4 years younger.
- Have sex. People who have healthy sex lives within the
context of a monogamous relationship are as much as 1.6
years younger, and possibly as much as 8 years younger,
than people who have sex less frequently.
- Patrol your own health. People who are proactive about
seeking high quality medical care and managing chronic
conditions can have a RealAge as much as 12 years younger
than their cohorts who don't.
- Take the RealAge test and develop your own Age
Reduction plan. Over your lifetime, you can make your
RealAge as much as 26 years younger. That means that you
will live younger every day, and live longer with as much
health and energy as possible.
About the Book
Are You as Young as You Can Be?
by Michael F. Roizen, M.D.
Published by Cliff Street Books
A Division of HarperCollins Publishers
(ISBN 0-06-019134-1, 335 pages, $25 hardcover)
An Age Reduction Program
that Can Make You Live and Feel
Up to 26 Years Younger
Until now, preventative medicine has not been very
successful in motivating healthy choices. We all know that
eating a diet low in saturated fats, taking vitamins and
exercising are good for us, but most people don't adopt
healthy habits until after a major health trauma has
occurred. For example, fewer than 15% of Americans get
adequate amounts of exercise, even though more than 90% of
those surveyed say that exercise is important to health.
That's why Michael Roizen, M.D. created RealAge -- a
revolutionary, scientifically valid age reduction plan that
not only explains WHY and HOW each behavior affects your
health, but how many years of each activity can actually
add or detract from your life!
Simple alternations in your daily activities can
stave off the biological aging process that makes old age
feel "old." RealAge lets you calculate your rate of aging
by assigning a value to current health choices. By adopting
the suggestions in Dr. Roizen's breakthrough book, you can
slow the rate of aging and sometimes even reverse it -- by
up to 26 years!
To find out your RealAge, Dr. Roizen and the RealAge team have designed a RealAge
survey of more than 150 health related questions that can
be taken through his book, RealAge: Are You As Young As You Can Be? A smaller version of the test is available online at http://www.RealAge.com The survey provides you with a starting point in
assessing your RealAge and in developing an age reduction
Through RealAge, Dr. Roizen illustrates that behavioral
choices make a huge difference in the rate of aging. Simple
tasks such as keeping your blood pressure in check, taking
aspirin each day, and eating a low-fat diet can lower your
RealAge significantly. By conscientiously lowering your
RealAge, you are buying time to do more and be more, to
enjoy the life you've always wanted. Simply put, RealAge,
by Michael Roizen, M.D., can make you live younger -- for
many years to come!
About the Author
Michael F. Roizen, M.D., the founder and author of RealAge,
is a professor of medicine and chair of the top-ten
Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care at the
University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate
of Williams College, and an Alpha Omega Alpha graduate of the University of California Medical School in San
Francisco. He performed his residency in internal medicine
at Harvard's Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and complete a
tour of duty in the Public Health Service at The National
Institutes of Health in the lab of Irv Kopin and Nobel
prize winner Julius Axelrod.
Dr. Roizen has just completed serving as Chair of a Food & Drug Administration Advisory Committee. He is also an editor or associate editor for six
medical journals, and a former editor of the University of
Chicago's Better Health Newsletter. He has published more
than 120 peer reviewed scientific papers, 100 textbook
chapters, 25 editorials, and two medical books.
Dr. Roizen continues to practice internal medicine and uses
the RealAge measurement routinely to motivate patients to
healthier behaviors. He has provided medical care to
numerous CEOs, seven Nobel Prize winners and hundreds of
other individuals. He has been featured in such media
outlets as Newsweek, Time, The Los Angeles Post, The New
York Post, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN and MSNBC in stories about
age reduction and health promotion.
Copyright © 1999 by RealAge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to duplicate or distribute this file as long as the information included is not altered in any way. Thank you.