By Kelly L Wade
It may be difficult to measure your fitness level if you wish to understand how healthy you are, or if you are starting a new workout regimen. Everyone's fitness level is different, and are personally based on factors in a few different categories including aerobic fitness, muscular fitness, flexibility and body composition. Fitness is more than how fast or long you can run, how much weight you can lift or what your body looks like in a bathing suit. If you want to know how healthy and fit your body is, try assessing your fitness level with these tests:
- Resting Heart Rate (RHR)- Your resting heart rate can be a good, simple indication of your overall fitness level. The number of times your heart beats each minute, asses your aerobic fitness capacity. When your body is at rest and relaxed, count the number of heart beats you feel in a 60 second time period. A lower RHR corresponds to a stronger cardiovascular system and higher aerobic fitness level.
- 1 Mile Run (or brisk walk)- This test indicates the level your cardiovascular fitness is at. Using a flat and measurable route, see how long it takes you to complete 1 mile running, or if you have to, walking quickly. If you don't get winded or dizzy you are in a good fitness position; if you do, you need to work on improving your cardiovascular fitness. Ideally, you should be able to complete one mile in 9 minutes or less.
- Push Ups- Push ups are a great exercise for overall fitness, and can be a good indicator of upper body strength and endurance levels. There are many people that have trouble performing even one proper push-up. This exercise involves the shoulders, chest, triceps, abdominals and some legs, and are a great way to asses your upper body fitness. See how many you can do in row; women should aim for 12 and men should aim for 20.
- Wall Sit- This exercise is used to asses lower body and leg strength and endurance. "Sitting" in an invisible chair with your back up against a wall for as long as possible, is a good way to gauge your lower body fitness, as well as the endurance in your leg muscles. With your knees at a right angle, breathe freely while seeing how long you can hold the position.
- Flexibility- Fitness is also a measure of how flexible your body is. To asses flexibility, sit on the floor with your legs stretched out, and then try to reach and touch your toes. If you can't touch your toes this does not mean you are not fit, many people can't reach this far. However, you definitely need to work on this area of fitness if you can't reach much further than your knees. Flexibility is important to overall health, so work on stretching each day to improve flexibility and fitness.
- Balance- Like flexibility, balance is also an important factor in good fitness. An overall healthy body relies heavily on being well balanced, and the risk or injury and broken bones from falls increases drastically with age. To asses your fitness level in this area, try standing on one foot with your arms at your sides for a period of one minute. If you feel as if you may fall, stand close to a wall, table or chair. Work on improving fitness levels in balance, try practicing exercises that focus on and promote good balance like yoga or Pilates.
- Plank- This is a great exercise to asses your core strength and stability. Your fitness level relies on those deep, stabilizing muscles that are in the trunk of your body. Your core strength and fitness can be assessed by practicing holding the plank position for as long as you can. Proper planks are held with the forearms on the floor, toes curled under, and your back straight and parallel to the floor. Doing this exercise each day will increase core muscles and overall fitness.
- Vertical Jump- As kids, this part of our fitness level was certainly up to par, and used often. However, when you get older it is a much looked over part of overall health that can indicate the power exertion your body possesses as well as the power in your muscle fibers. See how high you can jump with markings on a wall or a 2-foot tall box.
- Waist to Hip Ratio- This fitness test is used to asses body fat distribution. The waist to hip ratio indicates the proportion of fat stored around the waist compared to hip girth. Those who hold more weight in their midsection as belly fat, are more likely to experience health problems like heart disease and diabetes, as well as a lower fitness level. To calculate your waist to hip ratio, measure the circumference of the widest part of your hips, and smallest part of your waist. Then divide the waist measurement by the measurement of your hips. For women, a healthy ratio is less than .8, and for men it's less than .9.
- Burpees- This full body exercise is a good way to indicate your fitness level if you can do even a few in a row. A burpee is an intense workout that challenges your muscular fitness, cardiovascular fitness, endurance and body power. Perform as many as possible in one minute to really test and push your fitness level.