Knowing where you stand in terms of fitness is important for several reasons. For example the information can help you determine readiness to meet a challenge such as running a race, or likelihood of being diagnosed with a health problem. As the preceding example suggests there are two types of fitness. According to the President’s Challenge Adult Fitness Test the types of fitness are physical fitness and health related fitness. Physical fitness tests measure things like speed and strength. Health fitness tests assess things like aerobic strength, which is a measure of how efficiently your heart and lungs get blood to your muscles. How do you know where you stand? The following tests can tell you.
Test your upper body strength
Menshealth.com recommends the bench press to gauge your strength. Site writer Adam Campbell advises testers to divide the heaviest weight they can lift once by their body weight. A score of 1.0-1.49 is average, above that is exceptional and below that is cause to work on building upper body strength.
Measure aerobic capacity with a run
Head to the park, safe street or treadmill that is a flat path where you can go 1.5 miles. Hit the stop watch and go as fast as you safely can. Can you finish in less than 12 minutes? Terrific! More than 12 minutes? Not stellar, but still very important. Stick with it. In time you will build capacity and endurance. In the meantime you will still reap lasting health benefits. Even moderate aerobic activity has been shown to increase your sense of well being and reduce the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
Check range of motion with a test of flexibility
We take our movements for granted until something limits them. Healthy joints mean easier walking and a natural range of motion that does not put undue strain on the back or hips. The President’s Challenge Adult Fitness Test recommends that you sit and reach to measure your flexibility. After a brief warm-up sit on the floor with your spine erect and your knees extended fully in front of you. Place a yardstick between your legs, right at your crotch (secure with tape). Reach toward your toes and note how far you go. Being able to reach to about 17 inches is average for people between the ages of 36 and 55.
Know your BMI
If you have been to your healthcare provider recently this term almost certainly came up. Your BMI or body mass index is a measure of body fat. The number is roughly calculated by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared, then multiplying that number by 703. Alternatively, you can visit a site such as ACE Fitness to plug in your weight and height and get an immediate calculation. A BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight, 18.5-24.9 is normal weight, 25.0-29.9 is over weight and anything above 30 is considered obese. Knowing your BMI is important because carrying excess weight is associated with higher risk of health problems. If you are in the danger zone take steps to reduce your number.
If you aren’t sure where you stand in terms of fitness, give these tests a try. Don’t worry a bit if your results are less than stellar. Start a fitness journal, make and commit to a fitness plan and take the tests again in three months. What you have done in the past matters less than what you choose to do now.