Measuring your current fitness is a good first step for both protecting the shape you're in and motivating yourself to do better if you're out of condition. Fitness has three components: heart and lung capacity (aerobic fitness), strength, and flexibility. Below are a few quick tests that you can do at home to monitor your progress.
- Aerobic Fitness Assessment: The One Mile Walk
Take your pulse* before you walk and write down your heart rate per minute. Walk one mile. You should walk at a brisk pace but not so fast that you can’t carry on a conversation while walking. After you complete a mile, check your watch and record the time it took to walk the mile in minutes and recheck your heart rate. Keep track of your progress over the course of 6 months. As your level of fitness improves, both heart rates and time to walk a mile should decrease.
* Take your pulse by placing your index and third finger on your neck to the side of your windpipe or on the thumb side of the inside of your wrist. When you feel your pulse, count the number of pulses in 15 seconds and multiple this number by 4 to calculate your heart rate per minute.
- Strength Assessment: Push-Ups
You can perform these push-ups either on your knees or on your toes depending on your current fitness level. Start lying face down on the floor with your elbows bent and your palms next to your shoulders. Keeping your back straight, push up to raise your body off the floor until your elbows are straight. Slowly lower your body until your chest touches the floor. Count each time you return to your chest touching the floor as one push-up. Continue raising and lowering your body until you need to stop to rest. Record how many push-ups you completed. Keep track of your progress over the course of 6 months.
- Measure of Flexibility: Sit and Reach
This test measures the flexibility in the back of your legs and hips and your lower back. Place a yardstick on the floor with a piece of masking tape at the 15-inch mark. Sit on the floor with the yardstick between your legs, your knees straight and the soles of your feet at the 15-inch mark. Reach forward as far as you can and hold for 2 seconds. Have a friend measure the distance you reached along the yardstick. Record the distance. Keep track of your progress over the course of 6 months.