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Assessing Your Fitness Level

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Many of us are interested in determining how fit we really are and in what ways we might improve that level. Perhaps we already consider ourselves to be physically active whether through a regular and rigorous exercise routine or because we periodically throw on our cycling jersey for a long ride or hit the tennis courts for a grueling work-out or some other physical outlet. Many are surprised to learn that even though they commit to some form of exercise they are not in the physical shape that they think they should be. It’s a good idea to test oneself from time to time to see how they stack up when it comes to their fitness quotient. Many personal trainers adhere to the notion that people do better when they test and retest themselves as to their overall fitness and aim to continue the quest for improvement. It serves to motivate one to pick up the effort when they are lagging behind. There are three main areas that are considered the “pillars” of physical fitness: cardio power, strength and flexibility.
The United States military uses a basic two-mile run as a way of evaluating fitness in potential candidates as far as their cardio abilities. After a ten minute warm-up of easy jogging, an individual is timed over a two mile course to see how well they stack up. For military personnel, a time of 17 minutes and 30 seconds is considered successful. The rest of us may come in a bit higher on that time but for any of us, this is an area that can be vastly improved with practice. In order to build speed, try adding intervals of intense physical output followed by periods of relative ease. This will cause the heart and lungs to work harder and improve efficiency which will lead to improved results.
As for strength assessment, many consider the overhead squat to be a valid indicator of ones overall strength. If the number of times you can do this can be counted on one hand you obviously need to work on increasing your overall strength.
Flexibility is always important and becomes increasingly so as one ages. To assess how flexible you are try lying face-up on a workout bench or table with your lower legs hanging down. Bend your right leg and bring your knee to your chest. Repeat on other side. With legs straight out, lift one leg as high in the air as possible without bending the knee. If you can manage to lift your leg to an 80 degree angle, your flexibility quotient is pretty good. If not, commit to working up to that level of agility.