In America we often equate fitness with appearance or a body weight. But true fitness is not a shape or a number on a scale.
The American Council on Exercise has identified four tests that give a true indication of fitness - demonstrating whether your body is functional. A functional body is a key to maintaining a high quality of life, sustaining the ability to continue doing the daily tasks and recreational pleasures that you enjoy.
A functional body can also move freely in all planes of human movement. Oftentimes, as people move decade by decade through life, daily tasks become more and more difficult. Unfortunately, that often translates into people not continuing to participate in many of the recreational activities often enjoyed in earlier decades.
So... what are the four tests???
Cardiovascular endurance is a test of the ability of the heart and lungs to deliver oxygen throughout the body. You should be able to complete 1 mile in 12 minutes or less before the age of 60, and 14 minutes or less after the age of 60.
Muscular Strength and Endurance
The muscular strength / endurance test has two parts. First is a push-up test, which tests upper body strength and endurance. Males should be able to complete 2 sets of 15 push-ups with a moderate rest period of not more than a minute. Females should perform the same test, but with a modified push-up.
The second part tests the lower body's strength and endurance. It involves 2 sets of 20 leg lunges on each leg with a moderate rest period of not more than one minute.
Core strength involves the musculature of the midsection of the body which includes postural muscles, abdominal muscles, and oblique muscles. The body is a chain consisting of three parts - upper, middle and lower. The core being the middle link in the chain is the key two a functional body because when the middle link is weak the other links become less functional.
The core test is called a plank. In the plank position you assume the prone position, resting on your forearms, then push up onto your toes, so that your body is like a flat board. You should be able to hold this position for 30 seconds, without allowing the hips to sag or rise above the shoulders.
Can you touch your toes?
Examine yourself and see if you are fit. Turn your mind set away from the cultures obsession with appearance and get in true shape. If you struggle with some or all of the tests do not get discouraged. The body is an amazingly designed machine that adapts quickly to challenges.
So, get started by attempting these tests every other day for a total of 3 days a week. You will be amazed how quickly the body adapts. Ultimately, you will develop a body that is functional... and a body that is functional improves your quality of life!
To your health,