5:35 PM EDT, October 5, 2012
When you're starting a new exercise program, it's good to take as many measurements as you can at the beginning, that way you can track your progress over time.
Hitting new milestones will keep you motivated and show you just how effective your current training program really is. Try these simple, at-home tests to measure your fitness. If you score low, don't sweat it: Just stick with your workout and you'll see these numbers gradually improve.
How aerobically fit am I?
To do this test, walk one mile as fast as you can and time yourself with a stopwatch. If you're younger than 40, an "excellent" time would be 13:30 or less; a "good" time would be 13:31 to 16:00; an "average time" would be 16:01 to 18:30. If you're older than 40, the "excellent" range is 14:30 or less ; "good" is 14:31 to 17:00; and "average" is 17:01 to 19:30.
To improve in this area, spend 30 minutes a day, three days a week, doing interval aerobic training, varying your intensity between fast and recovery pace to build your aerobic capacity, and improve your quickness.
How much upper body strength do I have?
To do this test, do as many modified push-ups (with your knees on the floor and legs crossed) as you can, using perfect form with your back straight.
If you're in your 20s, 30 or more is excellent, 21 to 29 is very good and 15 to 20 is good. If you're in your 30s, 27 or more is excellent, 20 to 26 is very good and 13 to 19 is good.
In your 40s, 24 or more is excellent, 15 to 23 is very good, and 11 to 14 is good. In your 50s, 21 or more is excellent, 11 to 20 is very good and seven to 10 is good. In your 60s or older, 17 or more is excellent, 10 to 16 is very good and five to nine is good. To improve in this area, strength-train three times a week (every other day), aiming for eight to 12 push-ups at a time and building up to three sets.
How much flexibility do I have?
Put a yardstick on the floor with a piece of tape at the 15-inch mark. Sit with your heels at the edge of the tape and your legs a foot apart. Slowly reach your arms forward, release and repeat, recording your longest distance. If you're 26 to 35, the average distance is 19 (above average is 20, below average is 16 and well below average is 13 inches). If you're 36 to 45, your average should be around 17 inches (19 is above, 15 is below and 12 is well below). From 46 to 55 years of age, you should be reaching 16 inches (18 is above, 14 is below and 10 is well below). When you are 56, you should be reaching 15 inches (17 is above, 13 is below, 9 is well below). To improve in this area, spend some time stretching each day and try taking yoga or Pilates classes.
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer and co-owner of Home Team Fitness LLC. Go to www.hometeamfitness.net for more information.
Copyright © 2013, Herald Mail