Getting in shape requires commitment to a healthy diet and exercise program. If you are eating right and working out, you may think you are in good shape but you could actually be wrong. You can determine just how fit you are by taking fitness tests that gauge your current fitness level. The Mayo Clinic states that four key levels of fitness are generally assessed including aerobic fitness, muscular fitness, body composition and flexibility. Test results can help you set goals to improve areas of weakness as well as maintain areas of strength.
A two-mile run test can test your aerobic fitness. Author Jason Fitzgerald states that two miles is just long enough to test both endurance and speed. Do this test by mapping out a two-mile course; warm-up with a 10-minute jog prior to running the two miles at a fast pace that you can comfortably maintain. Time your run with a stopwatch. The "Huffington Post" states that a finish time of less than or equal to 18 minutes is above average for adults between the ages of 37 to 51.
Assess your muscular fitness, or how strong your muscles are, with a pushup test. Lie face down on the floor with your hands underneath your shoulders. Push yourself up into a full pushup position so that you are resting on your hands and toes. If this is too difficult for you, try a modified pushup by resting on your knees. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe as you keep your abdominal muscles engaged. Slowly lower to the floor until your chin grazes the floor and push yourself back up to the start position for one pushup. Continue doing as many pushups as you can for a minute until you are fatigued. Record this number to use as a baseline measure as you continue exercising -- see if you can surpass this number the next time you do the test. The Washington State Patrol cites Cooper Institute standards in which females and males between the ages of 20 to 29 should be able to do 15 and 29 push ups respectively.
Flexibility refers to the limberness of your muscles, or the range of motion in a joint. Test your flexibility with the sit-and-reach test. Warm up prior to this test with some brisk walking and static stretching. Put a yardstick on the floor and highlight the 15 in. mark with a marker or piece of tape. Then, sit on the floor with legs stretched out in front of you and the yardstick between your legs. Your heels should be at the 14 in. mark. Stretch your arms forward along the stick until you cannot reach any further and record to the nearest inch. Do the stretch three times with a brief period of rest between each and record the best result. Shape Up America cites the YMCA Sit-and-Reach Test standards in which greater than 20 inches and 25 inches is excellent for males and females, respectively, between the ages of 26 and 35.
Body composition refers to the ratio of fat to muscle on your body. It is measured with the BMI, or Body Mass Index, measure that is based on your height and weight. Although it may be useful, BMI is limited in that it may overestimate the body fat in muscular people including athletes and underestimate body fat in people with poor muscle mass including older people. An alternative test for body composition is to measure your waist circumference. Health Canada states that a waist circumference greater than 35 in. for a woman and 40 in. for a man is associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- HuffPost: Healthy Living: Fitness Test: Are You In Shape?
- Health Canada: Food And Nutrition: Canadian Guidelines For Body Weight Classification In Adults
- Mayo Clinic: Fitness: How Fit Are You? See How You Measure Up
- The President's Challenge: Adult Fitness Test: The Sit-And-Reach Test
- The President's Challenge: Adult Fitness Test: Body Composition
- NIH: National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute
- WSP: Washington State Patrol: Trooper Career: Physical Standards
- Shape Up America! The YMCA Sit-And-Reach Test