Guest Author - Terri Johansen
How fit are you really? Sometimes you need to step back and take a good look at your exercise routine to determine how well it is working. In order to do that you need to assess your current fitness level. You may be surprised by what you find out, such as you may be in better shape than you thought, or you may need to vamp up your routine.
Here are a few easy ways to test your current fitness level.
•To test cardio endurance use the step test. Step up and down off of a bench or step, no more than one foot high. Maintain a steady pace for 3 minutes. Stop immediately, sit down, and take your pulse. Compare it to the results below.
Above average less than 85; average 109-117 below average 127-138
Above average less than 88; average 112-119; below average 127-138
Above average less than 90; average 111-118; below average 130-140
Above average less than 94; average 116-120; below average 130-140
•To determine body strength you will use the push-up test. Begin in a push-up modification on your hands and knees. Place your knees hip width apart and directly under your hips. Place your hands slightly in front of your shoulders with fingers pointing forward.
Lower yourself to the floor until your chest is approximately 3-4 inches from the floor. Push up into starting position. Repeat this movement as many times as you can in 60 seconds. Be sure you keep count so you can compare your results.
Above average 36 or more; average 22-29; below average 17 or less
Above average 31 or more; average 21-27; below average 15 or less
Above average 27 or more; average 18-25; below average 12 or less
Above average 18 or more; average 15-20; below average 10 or less
•To test your flexibility you will use the sit and reach. Sit on the ground with legs extended straight out in front of you about 12 inches apart. Place a yard stick between your legs with the 36 inch end facing out. Put a piece of tape at the 15-inch mark and place your heels on that mark.
Put the palms of your hands together and reach forward slowly. Hold the stretch for several breaths. The number of inches stretched is measured by the yard stick. Compare your test to the numbers below.
Above average 20 inches or more; average 19-20 inches; below average less than 16 inches
Above average 19 inches or more; average 17-18 inches; below average less than 15 inches
Above average 18 inches or more; average 16-17 inches; below average less than 14
Above average 17 inches or more; average 15-16 inches; below average 13 inches or less
•The last test is the abdominal curl to measure core strength. To begin lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Reach forward by lifting your head and shoulders. Slide your hands beside you reaching to just beside your hip. Do as many curls as you can in 60 seconds. Compare your test to the numbers below.
Above average is 60 or more; average 29-53; below average less than 21
Above average 55 or more; average 27-43; below average less than 20
Above average 50 or more; average 24-40; below average less than 17
Above average 50 or more; average 22-23; below average less than 10
Here are ways to use what you learned from your assessment. Begin by asking yourself the following questions. Be honest and consider the ideas presented below.
•How old are you? This factor often determines your exercise ability. You don’t want your fitness level to be affected by your age. So find activities that are gentle on the body and also help you reach the Department of Health’s recommended level of physical activity for an adult which is 150 minutes per week.
•In an average week how close are you to reaching this recommendation? Every minute of exercise counts and if you increase your fitness activity to 150 minutes per week you will reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes by 50%. To help reach this goal try splitting up your exercise throughout the day. Walk 10 minutes before breakfast, take a work break and walk 10 minutes, and then walk another 10 minutes after dinner. This design can make exercising more manageable.
•What level of intensity currently fits your fitness level? Consider whether it is moderate, vigorous, or a combination of the two. How do you know the difference? Moderate exercise increases your heart rate, makes you warm, you begin to sweat, and you are slightly out of breath, but you are still able to carry on a conversation. Vigorous exercise increases your heart rate, causes you to breathe fast, sweat more profusely, and you would not be able to carry on a conversation. The intensity of your exercise factors into the recommended weekly requirements. You can exercise moderately for 150 minutes or vigorously for 75 minutes per week. It’s okay to mix it up.
•Do you currently include strength training exercises in your workouts? Try to exercise all major muscle groups 2 times per week, to receive maximum fitness benefits. If an all over body workout doesn’t fit into your schedule then try splitting it up into manageable amounts. For example, on Monday do some bicep curls and triceps extensions. Tuesday take a yoga class. Wednesday try some shoulder presses and lateral raises. Thursday take a Pilates class. Friday work on your abs.
•What is your reason for not doing enough fitness activities? If you don’t have time then try working physical activities into your daily lifestyle. You may be able to ride your bike to work. Or try running several flights of steps on your work break.
•Have you used the excuses of “I’m too tired, and I don’t have the motivation”? Even though you may be tired exercise does increase energy levels. Try to plan something small everyday and as your energy begins to increase so will your exercise level. This will also increase your motivation because once you get going you’ll keep going.
Take the information you have gathered in your fitness level assessment and put it to good use updating your exercise routine.
Always check with a medical professional before starting or changing any exercise. Be happy, be healthy!
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