You know that exercise is good for you. It makes you look and feel great. But how do you determine your progress? After all, it’s not just about the number on the scale.
With a few simple tests, you can learn how to measure your fitness level. Here are five ways to do it.
5 Ways To Measure Fitness And Health
1. Resting Heart Rate
Exercise plays a huge role in heart health. So it’s no surprise that your resting heart rate, or pulse, is a way to measure physical fitness. This is the number of times your heart beats in a minute when you’re at rest. A doctor can measure it with a machine, but you can do it at home without any special equipment.
First, make sure you’re relaxed. An ideal time to check your pulse is in the morning – before you get out of bed. Check it at the top of your foot, side of your neck, or on your elbow or wrist. Place your fingers on any of these areas, and measure your pulse. The number of beats in 60 seconds is your resting heart rate.
A normal number is between 60 and 100. If you’re a physically active person, it may be as low as 40.1
2. Target Heart Rate
When you work out, reaching your target heart rate means that you’re getting the best workout possible. It’s also a good way to measure your fitness and the intensity of your exercise.
- Place the tips of your pointer and middle fingers on the area in your wrist where you can feel your pulse.
- Measure your pulse for 10 seconds; then, multiply that number by 6. This equals the number of beats in a minute.
Each age group has a target heart rate zone.
Target Heart Rate Zone: 98-146
Maximum Heart Rate: 195
Target Heart Rate Zone: 93-138
Maximum Heart Rate: 185
Target Heart Rate Zone: 88-131
Maximum Heart Rate: 175
Target Heart Rate Zone: 83-123
Maximum Heart Rate: 165
Target Heart Rate Zone: 78-116
Maximum Heart Rate: 155
You should be at 50 to 85 percent of your target heart rate zone. If you aren’t, then you should increase the intensity of your workout.2
3. Mile Run
Another way to measure health and fitness is to run a mile. It’s a standard test for gym classes, so you’ve probably done it growing up.
The easiest method is to run on a track. One lap is a quarter of a mile, so you’ll need to run four laps. If you don’t have access to a track, run on a treadmill or around your neighborhood.
Just starting out? Jog or walk the mile.
The average time is 8 to 10 minutes. Anything less than 8 minutes is considered excellent, and anything more than 10 is considered poor.
Planks are the best way to measure core muscle strength. They’re also very simple!
- Kneel down and place your elbows on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
- Extend your legs backward, and flex your feet. Lift your body, keeping it straight the entire time. Hold for as long as possible. If you hold the pose for a long duration, it means you have excellent core strength.
5. Sit And Reach
The sit and reach test is another popular way to measure fitness. It assesses flexibility in the lower half of your body. If you’re flexible in the legs, hamstrings, hips, and lower back, you have a lower risk of injury and pain.
- You’ll need a yardstick for this test. Place a strip of tape at the 15-inch mark.
- Sit on the floor so that the yardstick is in between your legs; position one leg on each side.
- Keep your heels flexed, and place the soles along the tape.
- Put one hand on top of the other and reach forward. If you can reach the tape, you have average flexibility; if you can reach past it, your flexibility is excellent. But if you’re unable to touch the tape, your flexibility is poor.
Aside from these ways to measure fitness, you can also check your body mass index (BMI). If your BMI is between 25 and 29.9, you are overweight; if it is 30 or more, you are obese.
However, BMI doesn’t account for muscle. You should also consider your waist circumference. The more fat you have around your waist, the higher is your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Women should aim for less than 35 inches, and men should aim for less than 40.3
|↑1||All About Heart Rate (Pulse). American Heart Association.|
|↑2||Target Heart Rates. American Heart Association.|
|↑3||Assessing Your Weight and Health Risk. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|