There are a lot of life expectancy and longevity calculators out there. So I decided to do a systematic test to find the best. I found a willing friend and had him use a few of the top longevity calculators available. Throughout the process, we made note of his projected life expectancy according to the calculator, the experience of the test itself, and what recommendations were given, if any.
Overall, results varied from my friend’s life expectancy being anywhere between 84 to 96.2 years. Of course, he liked the idea of his mid-nineties the best, but which calculator actually provided the most accurate results?
On RealAge, one of the most comprehensive longevity calculators available, my friend scored a “biological age” 11.7 years younger than his chronological age. Add that to the average life expectancy of about 78 for an overall deduced life expectancy of 89.7 years. Not bad.
The RealAge test took about 20 minutes to complete and additional pieces of information like cholesterol levels, blood pressure ratings, and even vitamin contents were requested (but not required) for a more detailed report. My friend said he had to pay a lot of attention to questions and read the test carefully, which is perhaps less fun but suggests that the results are based on more data. The results page gave detailed and helpful suggestions for maintaining health and continuing to lower your “RealAge.”
The “Vitality Compass” Longevity Calculator
This longevity calculator on the Blue Zones website was the favorite of my tester. It gave him a life expectancy of 96.2 years, the highest of all test results. The online test took only 4 minutes to complete and he didn’t need any additional medical information like cholesterol levels that wasn’t readily on hand.
The test has a nice visual display and works great with updated, fresh graphics. The data gathered is based on a book titled “Blue Zones” that focuses on research from four areas of the world where people tend to live longer and healthier than expected. In addition to the longevity calculator, the site offers a support community and programs to help you make lasting changes.
Living to 100’s Longevity Calculator
“Living to 100” is a book and a website by Dr. Thomas Perls. The accompanying online longevity calculator is based on research that he did in the New England Centenarian Study. My test user scored a life expectancy of 84 years and could improve his projections by 12.5 years if he followed certain recommendations. Overall, this longevity calculator took 5 minutes to complete. The report was good, but it lacked resources to help make changes after getting the results.
The Northwestern Mutual Longevity Game
This “longevity game” is sponsored by Northwestern Mutual, a large financial services and life insurance company that knows a little bit about calculating life expectancy. The game took about 2 minutes to play. It had fun graphics that changed the look of a person as the user’s avatar as each question was answered.
In the end, the calculator gave my friend a life expectancy of 90. There were little to no helpful suggestions, explanations, or unique recommendations. Though fun, some of the questions were unclear, and my friend said he had to guess a bit at the best choice.
The Bottom Line
While these tests are based on real numbers, a lot of assumptions are made. Focus not on the actual number of years, but on understanding which of your habits are healthy (and you should keep) and which ones you should change.