7 ways to assess your true fitness level

Photo Credit: Men & Style Fashion

Now how fit are you? This feature in Men Style and Fashion gives us a few exercises to help us assess this if our daily chores haven’t given us a clue already.

There are many ways to assess your true fitness level, for the average person, it is important to know –in layman’s terms- how you measure up for your age, whether you are at risk of developing poor health, or if you’re doing well or even excelling.

The benefits of assessing your true fitness level are many; it not only helps to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but also improves your psychological health by boosting serotonin levels, and will also make you more attractive to the opposite sex.

Photo Credit: Men& Style
Photo Credit: Men& Style

In terms of fitness, there are many quantifiable measurements that you can use to get an accurate picture of how healthy you really are; these include:

  • Cardiovasuclar health (heart rate)
  • Speed
  • Flexibility
  • Strength
  • Endurance

It is a good idea to get a measurement of each of these, even if you’re only looking to focus on one area (such as speed or strength).  This will not only help you to focus on one particular area, but will also ensure you do not neglect another important factor of fitness.

Here are a few simple tests you can do to measure your fitness level, and ensure that you are maintaining a good level of fitness for your age

Walk for One Mile

Photo Credit: Men & Style
Photo Credit: Men & Style

Walk for one mile, then measure your pulse immediately afterwards. The best way to measure your pulse is to place your index and middle finger on the side of your neck (do not use your thumb, as this has its own pulse), here you should be able to feel your pulse. Set a stopwatch for 15 seconds, and count how many beats you feel in that time, then multiply it by 4. This will give you your Beats Per Minute (BPM).

Now you just need to take the number 205, and deduct from it half of your age. This will tell you what your Maximum Heart Rate should be.

Example:             If you are 50 years old, that would be 205 – (50/2) = 180 BPM ß Maximum

To work out your ideal heart rate range, take your Maximum heart rate, and multiply it by 0.6 for the lower level, and 0.8 for the higher level.

Example:             180×0.6 = 108 BPM ßLower heart rate
180×0.8 = 144 BPM ßUpper heart rate

This means that for a 50 year old, after walking for one mile, if your heart rate is between 108 and 144 BPM, your cardiovascular health is good.

 Run for One Mile

Photo Credit: Men & Style
Photo Credit: Men & Style

Running for one mile is good way to measure your speed and fitness. Obviously, there are many factors to consider when measuring the time it takes to run a mile; length of leg, shortness of Achilles tendons, age and gender. For this reason, it is hard to find an accurate standard of what you should be achieving. Generally though, as long as you can run continuously for a mile without stopping, and can complete a mile in under nine minutes, you can consider your speed to at an acceptable level. If you are clocking in times of below 7 minutes, your speed level is very good, and anything below 5 minutes is considered world-class.

Do Push Ups

Photo Credit: Men & Style
Photo Credit: Men & Style

Pushups are great way of measuring endurance and your strength to weight ratio. If you have a high strength to weight ratio, you will find exercises such pushups and pullups relatively, but if your strength to weight ratio is low, you will find them far more difficult.

As a rough standard, consult the graph below for how many push-ups you should be able to complete continuously for your age bracket:

Photo Credit: Men & Style
Photo Credit: Men & Style

Tread Water For 15 Minutes

Photo Credit : Men & Style
Photo Credit : Men & Style

Treading water continuously for 15 minutes helps to measure your endurance. Treading water works almost all muscle groups, and helps to measure endurance. To tread water, get into a still pool (without currents, salt or distractions), and keep your head above water without floating, for 15 minutes. This should be an achievable task for most people, and shows a good level of endurance.

Do the ‘Sit and Reach Test’

Photo Credit: Men & Style
Photo Credit: Men & Style

This test helps to measure the flexibility of your lower body, mainly the legs and lower back. The sit and reach test involves sitting flat on the ground with both legs together. Place your feet flat against a 90 degree surface, such as a table, and lean forwards towards your toes.

If you can reach your toes you can consider yourself quite flexible. Beyond your toes is very flexible, and anything below means that you have reduced flexibility. The good news is that this very action helps to stretch out your hamstrings, improving your flexibility over time.

Do the ‘Back Scratch Test’

Photo Credit: Men & Style Fashion
Photo Credit: Men & Style Fashion

This test helps to measure the flexibility of your arms and shoulders. To do the back scratch test, simply stand up, a bend one arm up behind your back, the other should be bent down over your shoulder. If you are adequately flexible, your fingers should be able to touch. If you are very flexible, you may even be able to hold your hands together. If you are unable to make your fingertips touch, you may want to repeat the exercise until you can.

Do the Harvard Step Test

Photo Credit: Men & Style Fashion
Photo Credit: Men & Style Fashion

The Harvard step test was developed during the second world war as a simple method of measuring endurance and overall fitness using minimal equipment. The test is simple, simply find a step about 20 inches in height, and step up and down onto the platform every two seconds for 300 seconds (5 minutes), or until you can no longer continue (if you drop pace for more than 15 seconds). After the 5 minutes is up, sit down immediately on the step, and 60 seconds after sitting, measure how your pulse for 90 seconds (do not measure BPM, just the actual amount of beats).

Your fitness level can be calculated as (100 x test duration in seconds) / (5.5 x pulse count).

So, assuming you completed the full 300 seconds, and you counted 90 beats, you would have:

100 x 300 = 30,000 and 5.5 x 90 = 495

= 30,000 divided by 495 = 60 ßFitness score

An excellent score would be above 96.
A good score, between 83-96.
An average score, between 68-82.
A low average score, between 54-67.
A poor score would be below 54.

With these 7 simple tests, you can measure your true fitness level and ensure you are able to maintain a good standard of fitness. Doing these tests themselves is also a great way to improve your overall fitness level, and keep you healthy and happy. For the average person, it’s a good idea to assess your true fitness level once a month. For the competitive athlete, once a week should be enough to make sure you’re on track.