Quite often, when I’m cruising the Internet, an ad pops up telling me to take the RealAge test to find out my “real age.”
After seeing the ad a few dozen times, I went ahead and took a look. What is it? The RealAge test is a questionnaire that is supposed to calculate your real age based on your answers to over 130 questions about your family and lifestyle. The questions range from “What describes your overall physical condition?” or “What is the trendiest thing you have done on your computer lately?” I found that often, none of the answer choices quite pertained to me, so I had to pick what I thought was the closest choice.
What Does it Measure?
The test is supposed to measure your physical health, emotional health and stress levels. It tries to measure these things by asking about how much you exercise and what you eat, as well as by trying to gauge how many stressful events you have endured and how mentally active you are.
How Accurate Is It?
So does it work? Although it may be nice to take a test on the Internet to find out how well you are doing in the health-wise, it probably isn’t the best measure of your health. While it is true that living a healthy lifestyle may increase your lifespan and living an unhealthy lifestyle or being under a lot of stress may increase your risks of certain illnesses, a questionnaire can’t accurately determine how these things are affecting your personal health. Take for instance the person who lives to 100 who smokes. Or the marathon runner who drops dead at 50.
An internet test probably can never really take the place of a physical exam or tests performed by a doctor, but it does provide the test-taker with a chance to reflect on the way that their living and how that’s affecting their overall health.