Do you think you’re in great, average or poor shape? Test your fitness with these exercises and find out how you can improve your fitness level.
1 What’s your heart rate?
Your resting heart rate (RHR) is a great indicator of your overall fitness. If it’s high, your heart has to work too hard to pump blood.
Wait until you’ve been sitting down for several minutes. Put two fingers on the inside of your wrist, neck or temple. Count the beats for 15 seconds then multiply the number by four to calculate your RHR.
You resting heart rate is:
- Super fit 40-60
- Very fit 60-70
- Average 70-90
- Low fitness above 90
IMPROVE IT: Regular exercise will help to lower your RHR. HIIT training is an excellent way to improve fitness, in addition look out for other ways to be more active – walk as much as you can and use the stairs instead of the lift.
2 What’s your cardio score?
Running is the best, and easiest, way to measure how well your heart and lungs use oxygen, which indicates your cardiovascular fitness. Run a mile (1.6km) and time yourself.
How long does it take you?
- I can do it in 10 minutes or less – You’re a star athlete!
- It takes me 11-13 minutes – Your fitness is pretty good
- I can manage 14-16 minutes – You need to work on your cardio
- I can’t run – It’s time to get moving
IMPROVE IT: Any activity that raises your heart rate and gets you a little breathless improves cardiovascular fitness. Vary – fast walking, running, cycling, swimming, and Zumba all count. Aim for at least 150 minutes of this cardio workout a week. If you’re not used to cardio, build up slowly.
3 How strong is your core?
Performing the plank is the best way to test your core muscles – which include your abs, glutes and obliques.
Start on your knees and forearms, then lift your body up so only your forearms and toes are on the floor. Keep your whole body in a straight line (like a plank). Measure how long you can hold the position.
How long can you hold it?
- Less than 20 seconds: Weak
- 20-30 seconds: Needs some work
- 30-50 seconds: Strong
- 1 minute: Very strong
IMPROVE IT: The plank is a great way to strengthen your core muscles. Besides, try doing lunges and anything that destabilizes you, e.g. try performing squats on a Bosu balance trainer. And don’t forget Pilates as this workout is hard to beat for overall core-strengthening,
4 How flexible are you?
Sit down on the floor, put your shoes off, place feet 20cm apart, resting against a cardboard box. Keep your legs straight throughout. Folding forward from your hips, reach as far as you can over the cardboard box and mark the furthest point you can hold for three seconds. If you don’t reach the box, you get a negative score, while for reaching onto the box you get a positive score – 0cm is where your feet touch the box.
How far can you reach?
- Excellent +21 to +30cm
- Good +11 to +20cm
- Average +1 to +10cm
- Fair -7 to 0cm
- Poor -14 to -8cm
- Very poor -15cm or less
IMPROVE IT: Yoga is a great way to boost flexibility, so add a weekly yoga session to your workout plan. Besides, Pilates and ballet classes are also excellent for improving flexibility.
Flexibility matters! Studies have shown that people who can touch their toes are less likely to have the stiff arteries connected to heart disease.
5 How strong is your upper body?
On your hands and knees, get into a semi-press up by putting your palms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, in line with your chest. Raise your feet off the floor, pull your belly button in and lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor, before pressing up again.
How many times can you go up and down in a minute?
- Excellent 17-20 or more
- Very good 12-16
- Good 7-11
- Average 4-6
- Poor 0-3
IMPROVE IT: Many women have weaker upper body strength, so don’t be depressed if you get a low score. The good news is you can increase your strength. Press-ups, shoulder presses, tricep dips, and lat pull-downs should be become part of your weekly routine.