Health Fitness Assessment Test Definitions

Health Fitness Assessment Test Definitions

June 8, 2016

Body Fat Percent Assessment

A correlation has been found between body fat percentage and susceptibility to multiple ailments and diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and multiple cardiac conditions. Higher body fat percentages can be a valuable indicator of an individual’s fitness as well as their risk for future complications. A higher percentage indicates that a greater ratio of the body is composed of fat. A lower percentage indicates that a smaller proportion of the body is composed of fat. The Health Fitness Assessment test includes this statistic to display an individual’s current health standing and to act as a baseline for measurement of success.

Grip Test

This analysis is not only a measure of fitness, it is an indication for functional, capable living. The hands and forearms are the point of contact for multiple upper body movements, making them an important area of focus for healthy, proficient living. Articulation of the fingers and the contractile capability of the hands and forearms is measured through this test. A higher score means a greater ability to generate force with these muscles.

VO2 Max Test

V02 Max is defined as the maximum capacity of an individual’s body to transport and use oxygen during aerobic exercise, which acts as a marker to the overall fitness of the individual. The name is derived from V -Volume, O2 – Oxygen, max – Maximum. VO2 Max is expressed as a relative rate in milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (i.e., mL/(kg•min)). A higher value represents a greater amount of oxygen being utilized by exercising muscles during aerobic exercise. Because VO2 Max is thought to be a trustworthy marker for cardiovascular health it is an important test in the Health Assessment.

Push-Ups Test

For fitness testing, the Push-Up assessment is a valuable tool to create understanding of the upper body’s ability to create force. Push-ups are a body-weight exercise which means that the amount of weight on the joints is safe and generally consistent for testing. Push-Ups also involve compound motion, which means that more than one joint is being utilized. In this case, the wrists, elbows and shoulders are all being employed. This is useful for assessment because it gives a more dynamic understanding of the upper body and its capability. Similarly to other assessments, a higher value or score suggests greater strength and fitness.

Abdominal Crunches Test

The muscles that compose the trunk and abdomen are specifically important to understanding and testing an individual’s fitness. Almost all motion is in some way associated with the stomach tissues, as these are the muscles that support the spine, sustain posture, and brace movement by the limbs. Abdominal Crunches, also called sit-ups, are a reliable test for the overall strength of the core, or stomach. Like the Push-Up assessment, Abdominal Crunches involve only the weight of the individual taking the test. As such, when done properly they are safe and effective.

Leg Strength Test

The leg strength assessment evaluates the lower body’s ability to generate maximal force. The hip complex, quadriceps and core muscles all contract in unison to create force that is measured by a dynamometer. A more forceful contraction during the test will register as a higher score. This is important to the Health Fitness Assessment as the ability of the lower body to create force is undeniably important in multiple ways. Lower body strength relates to articulation of motion and the ability to safely balance and maintain equilibrium.

To determine proper individual values, divide the test results by the subject’s body weight then use the normative tables below.

If a male subject weighs 175 pounds and had a test result of 500 pounds, their score would be 2.85 and would fall in the “Average” range. If the subject is over age 50, multiply this ratio by 1.10. For the same example above, if the subject was over the age of 50 their score would be 2.85 x 1.10 = 3.14, placing them in the “Good” range.

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Lots of trainers bash long runs. My take: If you can’t cover a good distance of ground quickly, you’re not that fit. Running is the most fundamental form of human exercise. The ability to burn through more than 6 miles in 50 minutes or less—an 8 minute mile pace—tells me your lungs are in order. It also shows that you likely have the ability to recovery quickly during rest periods or timeouts. What’s more, the 10 kilometer run seems to be an ideal training distance to prep my Special Forces guys in the event they ever have to flee a hot zone.

You’ll notice these standards test your strength, power-endurance—which is your ability to produce strength and power repeatedly—and endurance. If you want to be truly fit, you need to have a high level of fitness in each of those categories.

Individually, those seven fitness standards are good, but not great. A guy who can, for example, squat twice his bodyweight or bench 10 reps with his bodyweight is strong, but he’s not breaking any strength records anytime soon. A guy who can row 2,000 meters or run 10 kilometers in 50 minutes has a pretty solid base of endurance, but he’s not taking the podium at a race.

But a guy who can do all those things? That person is exceedingly fit.

Most people tend to be good in one area, but not in others. That’s because the body types and skills that lead to more strength, endurance, or power often compete with each other. This shouldn’t be a shock: Short, beefy guys tend to lift more, while long, lean guys tend to be better at cardio.

You’ll struggle with some of the standards. That’s how you find your weaknesses. Once you’ve identified them, you can begin working to iron them out. When you’re ready to get started, you can find the same 12- and 26-week workout programs that I use to help my Gym Jones clients achieve elite, functional fitness in my new Men’s Health book, Maximus Body. The programs will get you in the best shape of your life, and help you nail all 20 standards.

What it really means to be ‘in shape,’ according to a fitness expert — and how to gauge how fit you are

  • People often mean a lot of different things when they describe being “in shape.” To some, it’s the ability to run far or lift heavy weights; for others, it has to do with measurements like body-fat percentage.
  • Key components of fitness include aerobic fitness, muscular strength, body composition, power, and flexibility, according to fitness expert Shawn Arent.
  • With training you can improve on each of these measures.

There are plenty of people who can bench-press their own bodyweight but would be gasping for breath if they tried to run a 5k. And there are distance runners who can’t do a pull-up or a set of more than a few push-ups.

When people talk about trying to get “in shape,” they might mean a lot of different things, according to Shawn Arent, the director of the Center for Health and Human Performance at Rutgers University and a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.

“For some people, they really mean ‘How do I look better?’ For other people it’s ‘I want to run a marathon. How do I get more aerobically fit?’ For others, it’s ‘I want to be functional in all parts of my life,'” Arent told Business Insider.

There are a number of components of fitness, according to Arent, including aerobic fitness, muscular strength, body composition, power, and flexibility.

“I would say they’re all important,” he said.

Stephen Spillman/AP

Assessing fitness

At Rutgers, Arent’s lab can assess fitness both for the general population and for the athletes. They can also recommend ways to get stronger and build endurance.

“There’s no such thing as too strong, no such thing as too much endurance,” Arent said. But once you understand the categories, you can see what you might want to improve.

  • To test your aerobic fitness, a lab like Arent’s will measure your VO2Max. This is a measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen you can make use of during exercise, and is commonly used as a measure of endurance. Like most measures of fitness, VO2Max declines with age. But by engaging in physical activity that makes you breathe heavily, you can improve it. While you can’t do a full VO2Max test without specialized equipment, you can use this study-backed online calculator to get an estimate of your VO2Max and see how it compares to what it should be. The Mayo Clinic suggests you can also use your time for a 1.5-mile run to assess aerobic fitness for your age.
  • When it comes to strength, most of us want to be functionally strong — able to safely lift, move, and carry whatever we need for our day-to-day lives. Both muscle strength and bone density decline with age, but resistance or weight training can reverse that decline. Arent said there are a number of ways to assess strength, but one key measure is figuring out the maximum amount of weight a person could squat, bench press, and deadlift for a small number of repetitions — 5, 8, or 10. That creates a baseline for improvement. The Mayo Clinic says you can also assess baseline strength with a push-up and sit-up test.
  • Body composition is another useful measure. While not all fat is bad, there are certain forms of fat, like belly fat, that can indicate the presence of potentially dangerous fat around your organs. Body composition is a measure of lean mass — how much of your weight is muscle and bone — and how much is body fat. According to the American Council on Exercise, body-fat percentages for men should be below 25% and below 32% for women. To change your body composition, you can use both diet and exercise to burn fat and build muscle.
  • Arent said power is a key measure of fitness too. “When you talk about preventing falls and things like that, strength is very important, but so is power, because it’s the ability to rapidly adjust with that muscle contraction to catch yourself too,” he said. To measure it, the easiest test is a vertical jump.
  • Finally, flexibility is the one area of fitness where it’s OK to shoot for average, according to Arent. You can measure it on your own with a sit-and-reach test, according to the Mayo Clinic. And if you need to improve it, get stretching.

How to know you’re ‘in shape’

You don’t necessarily need to track all these measurements to make sure that you are healthy and fit.

The easiest way to ensure that you’re getting enough exercise is just to make sure you meet basic fitness recommendations.

To meet the minimum fitness guidelines from the CDC and WHO, you should put in an average of about 30 minutes a day. Five days of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise — like a 30-minute brisk walk or a casual bike ride — is enough to meet the aerobic guidelines. Then two days should include resistance training that involves weights or body-weight exercises, since those activities are the best ways to strengthen bones and muscles. Mix in some stretching or yoga for flexibility.

If that sounds like a lot, you can get your weekly dose of aerobic exercise faster by doing vigorous exercise like running or swimming — anything that gets your heart pumping. It takes just 75 minutes of that type of physical activity each week to meet the guidelines.

If you’re not doing that, it’s a great place to start. And if you are, you can always try to build up your fitness, as it’s one of the best things you can do for your body and brain.

When it comes to exercise, we think about how to “get” fit. But often, starting out is not the problem. “The big problem is maintaining it,” says Falko Sniehotta, a professor of behavioural medicine and health psychology at Newcastle University. The official UK guidelines say adults should do strength exercises, as well as 150 minutes of moderate activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, every week. According to the Health Survey for England in 2016, 34% of men and 42% of women are not hitting the aerobic exercise targets, and even more – 69% and 77% respectively – are not doing enough strengthening activity. A report from the World Health Organization last week found that people in the UK were among the least active in the world, with 32% of men and 40% of women reporting inactivity. Meanwhile, obesity is adding to the chronic long-term diseases cited in Public Health England’s analysis, which shows women in the UK are dying earlier than in most EU countries.

We all know we should be doing more, but how do we keep moving when our motivation slips, the weather takes a turn for the worse or life gets in the way? Try these 25 pieces of advice from experts and Guardian readers to keep you going.

1 Work out why, don’t just work out

Our reasons for beginning to exercise are fundamental to whether we will keep it up, says Michelle Segar, the director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center. Too often “society promotes exercise and fitness by hooking into short-term motivation, guilt and shame”. There is some evidence, she says, that younger people will go to the gym more if their reasons are appearance-based, but past our early 20s that doesn’t fuel motivation much. Nor do vague or future goals help (“I want to get fit, I want to lose weight”). Segar, the author of No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness, says we will be more successful if we focus on immediate positive feelings such as stress reduction, increased energy and making friends. “The only way we are going to prioritise time to exercise is if it is going to deliver some kind of benefit that is truly compelling and valuable to our daily life,” she says.

2 Get off to a slow start

The danger of the typical New Year resolutions approach to fitness, says personal trainer Matt Roberts, is that people “jump in and do everything – change their diet, start exercising, stop drinking and smoking – and within a couple of weeks they have lost motivation or got too tired. If you haven’t been in shape, it’s going to take time.” He likes the trend towards high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and recommends people include some, “but to do that every day will be too intense for most people”. Do it once (or twice, at most) a week, combined with slow jogs, swimming and fast walks – plus two or three rest days, at least for the first month. “That will give someone a chance of having recovery sessions alongside the high-intensity workouts.”

3 You don’t have to love it

It is helpful not to try to make yourself do things you actively dislike, says Segar, who advises thinking about the types of activities – roller-skating? Bike riding? – you liked as a child. But don’t feel you have to really enjoy exercise. “A lot of people who stick with exercise say: ‘I feel better when I do it.’” There are elements that probably will be enjoyable, though, such as the physical response of your body and the feeling of getting stronger, and the pleasure that comes with mastering a sport.

“For many people, the obvious choices aren’t necessarily the ones they would enjoy,” says Sniehotta, who is also the director of the National Institute for Health Research’s policy research unit in behavioural science, “so they need to look outside them. It might be different sports or simple things, like sharing activities with other people.”

4 Be kind to yourself

Individual motivation – or the lack of it – is only part of the bigger picture. Money, parenting demands or even where you live can all be stumbling blocks, says Sniehotta. Tiredness, depression, work stress or ill family members can all have an impact on physical activity. “If there is a lot of support around you, you will find it easier to maintain physical activity,” he points out. “If you live in certain parts of the country, you might be more comfortable doing outdoor physical activity than in others. To conclude that people who don’t get enough physical activity are just lacking motivation is problematic.”

Segar suggests being realistic. “Skip the ideal of going to the gym five days a week. Be really analytical about work and family-related needs when starting, because if you set yourself up with goals that are too big, you will fail and you’ll feel like a failure. At the end of a week, I always ask my clients to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Maybe fitting in a walk at lunch worked, but you didn’t have the energy after work to do it.”

5 Don’t rely on willpower

“If you need willpower to do something, you don’t really want to do it,” says Segar. Instead, think about exercise “in terms of why we’re doing it and what we want to get from physical activity. How can I benefit today? How do I feel when I move? How do I feel after I move?”

6 Find a purpose

Try to move more at work. Illustration: Mark Long

Anything that allows you to exercise while ticking off other goals will help, says Sniehotta. “It provides you with more gratification, and the costs of not doing it are higher.” For instance, walking or cycling to work, or making friends by joining a sports club, or running with a friend. “Or the goal is to spend more time in the countryside, and running helps you do that.”

Try to combine physical activity with something else. “For example, in my workplace I don’t use the lift and I try to reduce email, so when it’s possible I walk over to people,” says Sniehotta. “Over the course of the day, I walk to work, I move a lot in the building and I actually get about 15,000 steps. Try to make physical activity hit as many meaningful targets as you can.”

7 Make it a habit

When you take up running, it can be tiring just getting out of the door – where are your shoes? Your water bottle? What route are you going to take? After a while, points out Sniehottta, “there are no longer costs associated with the activity”. Doing physical activity regularly and planning for it “helps make it a sustainable behaviour”. Missing sessions doesn’t.

8 Plan and prioritise

What if you don’t have time to exercise? For many people, working two jobs or with extensive caring responsibilities, this can undoubtedly be true, but is it genuinely true for you? It might be a question of priorities, says Sniehotta. He recommends planning: “The first is ‘action planning’, where you plan where, when and how you are going to do it and you try to stick with it.” The second type is ‘coping planning’: “anticipating things that can get in the way and putting a plan into place for how to get motivated again”. Segar adds: “Most people don’t give themselves permission to prioritise self-care behaviours like exercise.”

9 Keep it short and sharp

A workout doesn’t have to take an hour, says Roberts. “A well-structured 15-minute workout can be really effective if you really are pressed for time.” As for regular, longer sessions, he says: “You tell yourself you’re going to make time and change your schedule accordingly.”

10 If it doesn’t work, change it

It rains for a week, you don’t go running once and then you feel guilty. “It’s a combination of emotion and lack of confidence that brings us to the point where, if people fail a few times, they think it’s a failure of the entire project,” says Sniehotta. Remember it’s possible to get back on track.

If previous exercise regimes haven’t worked, don’t beat yourself up or try them again – just try something else, he says. “We tend to be in the mindset that if you can’t lose weight, you blame it on yourself. However, if you could change that to: ‘This method doesn’t work for me, let’s try something different,’ there is a chance it will be better for you and it prevents you having to blame yourself, which is not helpful.”

11 Add resistance and balance training as you get older

“We start to lose muscle mass over the age of around 30,” says Hollie Grant, a personal training and pilates instructor, and the owner of PilatesPT. Resistance training (using body weight, such as press-ups, or equipment, such as resistance bands) is important, she says: “It is going to help keep muscle mass or at least slow down the loss. There needs to be some form of aerobic exercise, too, and we would also recommend people start adding balance challenges because our balance is affected as we get older.”

12 Up the ante

“If you do 5k runs and you don’t know if you should push faster or go further, rate your exertion from one to 10,” says Grant. “As you see those numbers go down, that’s when to start pushing yourself a bit faster.” Roberts says that, with regular exercise, you should be seeing progress over a two-week period and pushing yourself if you feel it is getting easier. “You’re looking for a change in your speed or endurance or strength.”

13 Work out from home

You don’t need complex equipment. Illustration: Mark Long

If you have caring responsibilities, Roberts says you can do a lot within a small area at home. “In a living room, it is easy to do a routine where you might alternate between doing a leg exercise and an arm exercise,” he says. “It’s called Peripheral Heart Action training. Doing six or eight exercises, this effect of going between the upper and lower body produces a pretty strong metabolism lift and cardiovascular workout.” Try squats, half press-ups, lunges, tricep dips and glute raises. “You’re raising your heart rate, working your muscles and having a good general workout.” These take no more than 15-20 minutes and only require a chair for the tricep dips – although dumbbells can be helpful, too.

14 Get out of breath

We are often told that housework and gardening can contribute to our weekly exercise targets, but is it that simple? “The measure really is you’re getting generally hot, out of breath, and you’re working at a level where, if you have a conversation with somebody while you’re doing it, you’re puffing a bit,” says Roberts. “With gardening, you’d have to be doing the heavier gardening – digging – not just weeding. If you’re walking the dog, you can make it into a genuine exercise session – run with the dog, or find a route that includes some hills.”

15 Be sensible about illness

Joslyn Thompson Rule, a personal trainer, says: “The general rule is if it’s above the neck – a headache or a cold – while being mindful of how you’re feeling, you are generally OK to do some sort of exercise. If it’s below the neck – if you’re having trouble breathing – rest. The key thing is to be sensible. If you were planning on doing a high-intensity workout, you would take the pace down, but sometimes just moving can make you feel better.” After recovering from an illness, she says, trust your instincts. “You don’t want to go straight back into training four times a week. You might want to do the same number of sessions but make them shorter, or do fewer.”

16 Seek advice after injury

Clearly, how quickly you start exercising again depends on the type of injury, and you should seek advice from your doctor. Psychologically, though, says Thompson Rule: “Even when we’re doing everything as we should, there are still dips in the road. It’s not going to be a linear progression of getting better.”

17 Take it slowly after pregnancy

Again, says Thompson Rule, listen to your body – and your doctor’s advice at your six-week postnatal checkup. After a caesarean section, getting back to exercise will be slower, while pregnancy-related back injuries and problems with abdominal muscles all affect how soon you can get back to training, and may require physiotherapy. “Once you’re walking and have a bit more energy, depending on where you were before (some women never trained before pregnancy), starting a regime after a baby is quite something to undertake,” says Thompson Rule. “Be patient. I get more emails from women asking when they’re going to get their stomachs flat again than anything. Relax, take care of yourself and take care of your baby. When you’re feeling a bit more energised, slowly get back into your routine.” She recommends starting with “very basic stuff like walking and carrying your baby ”.

18 Tech can help

For goal-oriented people, Grant says, it can be useful to monitor progress closely, but “allow some flexibility in your goals. You might have had a stressful day at work, go out for a run and not do it as quickly and then think: ‘I’m just not going to bother any more.’” However, “It can start to get a bit addictive, and then you don’t listen to your body and you’re more at risk of injury.”

19 Winter is not an excuse

“Winter is not necessarily a time to hibernate,” says Thompson Rule. Be decisive, put your trainers by the door and try not to think about the cold/drizzle/greyness. “It’s the same with going to the gym – it’s that voice in our head that make us feel like it’s a hassle, but once you’re there, you think: ‘Why was I procrastinating about that for so long?’”

20 Keep it bite-size

Alex Tomlin

I’ve tried and failed a few times to establish a consistent running routine, but that was because I kept pushing myself too hard. Just because I can run for an hour doesn’t mean I should. Running two or three times a week for 20-30 minutes each time has improved my fitness hugely and made it easier to fit in.

21 Reward yourself

Neil Richardson

I keep a large bag of Midget Gems in my car to motivate myself to get to the gym, allowing myself a handful before a workout. Sometimes I toss in some wine gums for the element of surprise.

22 Call in the reinforcements

Niall O’Brien

I tapped into the vast network of fitness podcasts and online communities. On days I lacked drive, I would listen to a fitness podcast, and by the time I got home, I would be absolutely determined to make the right choices. In fact, I would be excited by it. Your brain responds very well to repetition and reinforcement, so once you have made the difficult initial change, it becomes much easier over time.

23 Use visual motivation

Siobhan King

I have kept a “star chart” on my calendar for the past two years, after having three years of being chronically unfit. I put a gold star on days that I exercise, and it’s a good visual motivator for when I am feeling slug-like. I run, use our home cross-trainer and do a ski fitness programme from an app. My improved core strength has helped my running and ability to carry my disabled child when needed.

24 Keep alarms out of reach

Sally Crowe

If, like me, you need to get up early to exercise or it just doesn’t happen, move your alarm clock away from your bed and next to your kit. Once you have got up to turn it off, you might as well keep going!

25 Follow the four-day rule

Joanne Chalmers

I have one simple rule which could apply to any fitness activity – I do not allow more than four days to elapse between sessions. So, if I know I have a busy couple of days coming up, I make sure I run before them so that I have “banked” my four days. With the exception of illness, injury or family emergencies, I have stuck to this rule for 10 years.

Tests of Balance

Here is a collection of balance tests. Which one to use? Also read the discussion about balance testing.

Standing Balance

  • Flamingo Balance – stand on one leg while balancing on a beam.
  • Stork Stand Test – stand on the toes of one leg for as long as possible with the free leg resting on the inside of the opposite knee.
  • Standing Balance Test – stand on one leg for as long as possible.
  • One Leg Stand – the US sobriety test, stand with one foot off the ground for 30 seconds.
  • Stick Lengthwise Test – balance on a stick for as long as possible, standing side-on on the balls of both feet.

Walking Balance

  • Beam Walk
  • Balance Beam Test
  • Walk and Turn Field Sobriety Test

Dynamic Balance

  • Balance Board Test
  • Bass Test
  • Star Excursion Balance Test
  • Y Balance Test
  • Multiple Single-Leg Hop-Stabilization Test (MSLHST)

Conner McDavid doing the Y-Balance test
at the 2015 NHL Combine.

Related Pages

  • About balance tests
  • About agility testing
  • Training for Balance and Balance Equipment
  • Balance or Core Stability Training Equipment: Swiss Balls, Bosu Balls and Board Trainers.
  • Bosu Balls, Balance Trainers and Swiss Exercise Balls in the Fitness Store.

How to Test Your Own Balance

Before we continue

I want to emphasize that balance is a very complex task that can be affected by lots of different things. Medication, inner ear problems, visual problems, and blood pressure issues are just some examples of causes of balance problems. In physical therapy, we concentrate on the role that bones, joints, muscles, and nerves play in having good balance. I want to give you some simple tests that can be done at home to assess your balance. If you have trouble doing some of these tests, it is time to visit your physical therapist for a more comprehensive exam, and see your doctor for a full check up.

Our 4 Point Balance Test

(1) 1-Legged Standing Balance Test

This is pretty self explanatory. Stand on 1 leg without holding onto anything. Normal balance is one minute, less than 30 seconds will need some work.

(2) Standing Reach Test

Stand next to a wall, arm raised to shoulder height. Reach forward along the wall as far as you can without falling, and note the distance between the starting position, and finishing position. A standing reach of less than 6 inches indicates a higher risk of falling.

(3) Timed Up and Go Test

Place a chair against a wall and measure out 10 feet. Mark this spot. The test is how long it takes to get up out of the chair, walk 10 feet, turn around, and sit back down. If it takes longer than 14 seconds, there is a high risk for falling.

(4) The 5 Times Sit to Stand Test

Sit in a chair. Whenever ready, stand up and down 5 complete times as fast as possible. You have to stand up fully, and sit down with your butt touching the chair. Persons without balance problems can do this test in less than 13 seconds.

Ok, so there are 4 simple tests to determine if you or someone you love needs further evaluation for balance problems. Understand that these tests are not for everyone, but between the 4 of them, most people can get an idea of how well they are in balance. Once the problem can be identified, the solution is just behind it!

Written by Stephen V. Rapposelli, PT, OCS

How Fit Are You? A Fitness Test for Adults

You owe it to yourself to make fitness a priority. Physical fitness can help prevent more than 40 chronic diseases including potential killers such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and even cancer.

But how do you know whether you’re fit? Your overall fitness is a measure of four physical abilities — endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility — and body composition or body mass index (BMI). BMI tracks height and weight only while a body composition test, which calculates your fat and lean muscle mass, is an excellent indicator of overall fitness. For a more hands-on approach, try these personal trainer-approved fitness tests to see how you stack up.

Endurance and Cardiovascular Fitness Tests

Your endurance level reflects the health of your cardiovascular system — your heart, lungs, and circulatory system.

The VO2 Max Test: When you exercise intensely, you’ll eventually reach a point when your body cannot breathe any harder to keep up. That’s your VO2 max — the milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight (ml/kg/min). The more oxygen that circulates throughout your body when you exercise, the fitter you are. This is a test endurance exercisers might want to determine how much oxygen they use during intense workouts, says Mario Serban, co-founder of the LA Training Room in Los Angeles and trainer of Dancing With the Stars contestants. Because the VO2 max test requires a special face mask and other equipment, it has to be administered by a professional, usually an exercise scientist or physiologist. Talk to your doctor about your heart health before pursuing a test.

The Step Test: A simpler way to test your cardiovascular strength is the step test, says Mark Reifkind, owner of Girya Russian Kettlebells in Palo Alto, Calif. To perform the test, you need a 12-inch-high step and someone to time you. Step on the block with your right foot and then with your left so that you’re standing on the step, facing forward. Reverse, going down with your right foot and then your left. Repeat this process at a consistent pace for three minutes. Rest in a chair for one minute. Then, take your pulse for six seconds and multiply that number by 10 to determine your heart rate for one minute.

The results will vary depending on your age and gender. For men ages 18 to 25, a 60-second pulse rate between 85 and 100 is average to above average; 84 or less is good to excellent, while 101 or higher is fair to poor. For men ages 46 to 55, a pulse rate of 93 or lower is good to excellent, while 113 or higher is fair to poor.

For women ages 18 to 25, a 60-second pulse rate of between 94 and 110 is average to above average; 93 or lower is good to excellent, while 111 or higher is fair to poor. For women ages 46 to 55, a pulse rate of 101 or less is good to excellent, while 125 or higher is fair to poor.

How to improve endurance: Get regular aerobic exercise. Try brisk walking, swimming, jogging, biking, climbing stairs or hills, or playing an active team sport, such as tennis or basketball.

Balance Test

Balance is a key ability for overall health as you age, and this simple test will help you determine where you stand.

The One-Legged Balance Test: Take off your shoes and socks and stand on a hard surface. Ask someone to time you. Close your eyes and lift one foot about six inches from the floor. Bend your knee and place your foot against the leg you’re standing on (if you’re right-handed, lift your left foot; if you’re left-handed, lift your right foot). See how long you can hold this position.

Do the test three times and average your times. You should be able to hold your balance for 30 seconds or more if you’re 30 or younger. As you get older, it’s normal for your time to go down. “If you’re over 65, I’d be happy with your being able to hold it for five seconds,” Serban says.

How to improve balance: Practice standing on one foot or walking heel-to-toe. Yoga and tai chi also improve balance.

Flexibility Test

This simple test measures your flexibility.

The Sit-and-Reach Test: Start by stretching your legs: Lie on your back and lift your right leg toward your chest and hold for 10 to 30 seconds. You can grab your thigh to get your leg closer to your chest. Repeat with your other leg. Then stretch your trunk: Sit up and stretch your legs out in front of you; bend your left leg at the knee so that your foot touches your right thigh, and then run your hands down your outstretched leg. Repeat on the other side. After a couple of stretches, take a brisk walk for one to three minutes.

Place a yardstick on the floor. With a piece of masking tape, mark the 15-inch spot. Sit on the floor with the yardstick between your legs. Your legs should extend straight with your toes pointing toward the ceiling and your heels at the 14-inch line mark, with your feet about a foot apart. Reach forward with both hands along the stick and see how far along it your fingertips reach. Repeat three times with five seconds of rest between each stretch. Write down the longest measurement. (The goal is to reach your heels.)

How to improve flexibility: Begin a regular program of stretching exercises that involves most of your joints. Include shoulder and upper arm stretches and calf stretches. Yoga and tai chi are also good for improving flexibility.

Strength Test

Muscular strength is key to being able to stay active.

The Sit-Up Test: Lie down on the floor and have someone time you. Count how many sit-ups you can do in 60 seconds. This drill will give you an idea of your core strength — the strength of your abdominal and hip flexor muscles.

Results will vary depending on your age and gender. The younger you are, the more you should be able to do.

For men ages 18 to 25, any number over 49 is excellent; 35 to 38 is average. For men over 65, any number over 28 is excellent; 15 to 18 is average.

For women ages 18 to 25, any number over 43 is excellent; 29 to 32 is average. For women over 65, 23 is excellent, and 11 to 13 is average.

How to improve strength: Start a weight-training program with free weights or weight machines. Target the major muscle groups, and challenge yourself by adding weight as you progress. An excellent discipline that focuses on developing core muscles is Pilates.

Moving Fitness to the Next Level

You can calculate your overall fitness score using the federal government’s President’s Challenge Adult Fitness Test. However, keep in mind that finding out your results the first time you do these tests isn’t as important as using them as a baseline and working to improve them with strength training and conditioning routines, Reifkind says. Repeat these fitness tests after a few months of conditioning to see how you’ve progressed.

“Think of improving your fitness level as a marathon — a long-term building process,” Serban says. “If you stick with it, you will see results.”

More on Living Healthier and Happier >>

It’s National Fitness Day, so today seems like the perfect opportunity to rethink your approach to exercise. According to Virgin Active’s latest research, 52% of British women between the ages of 25 and 34 would rather look slim and toned in their holiday photos than be fit enough to run a marathon. Those under 25 claimed that ‘looking good’ was the main reason that they worked out. It’s not until we hit our mid-thirties that the majority of us are more motivated to hit the gym for our health.

At the other end of the age-spectrum, those over 55 years tend to spend more time working up a sweat, exercising for around 4.8 hours a week compared to the national average of 4.3. However, it’s not just about the amount of time spent in the gym. Too many of us focus on one type of exercise, such as a weekly run or spin class, rather than having a varied exercise routine that covers strength, stamina and mobility.

“Exercise won’t just help keep you slim, it’s also an important step to fighting the effect of ageing and improving your mental and physical,” says Tim Wright, fitness expert and the man behind Virgin Active’s latest service, Beyond Movement, which incorporates Pilates, sports massage and physiotherapy to ensure you are fit and healthy for your age. “Working out regularly has multiple health benefits at any age but becomes increasingly important as we get older.”

As runners, most of us are already pretty fit. We can bust out a 5K by barely breaking a sweat. But to be the best runner you can be, you need to have more than just cardiovascular fitness. You also need to shape up your muscular strength, flexibility, balance, and mobility. So how do you know where you stand? Try this do-it-yourself fitness test to find out.

How to perform this test: Follow the instructions below and mark your results in a notepad. Focus on the sections that you score fair or lower for six to eight weeks, then retest yourself to see how much you’ve improved. You will need access to a treadmill, a step, a yoga strap or belt, a stability ball, dumbbells and a track or 400-meter straightaway. Then, bookmark this page so you can come back to it as many times as you’d like to check in on your fitness.

Core Strength

A strong core—the muscles in your abdominals, back, and glutes—gives you stability, power, and endurance. “If your core muscles can’t support your pelvis, it will drop, which causes your hips, knees, and ankles to lose proper alignment,” explains Michael Fredericson, M.D., a professor of sports medicine at Stanford University. “When this happens, you can’t absorb forces appropriately, and your muscles fatigue quickly.”

Test It: Forearm Plank

Julia Hembree Smith

Start on all fours. Drop down to your forearms with elbows directly under shoulders, then step each foot back so that your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Engage your core to keep hips level with shoulders and keep neck relaxed. Time how long you can maintain the plank with perfect form (don’t let your hips hike up or dip).

Zack Kutos

Improve It: Hollow Hold to V-Sit

Lie faceup on the mat. Lift head, shoulder blades, and feet off floor as you extend arms straight out. Neck should be relaxed, not strained. This is your hollow hold. Next, engage abs to lift chest towards legs as you bend knees so that body forms a V shape and shins are parallel to floor. Slowly lower back down to a hollow hold position. That’s one rep. Do up to 20 reps.

Upper-Body Strength

A strong upper body makes it easier for a runner to hold good form, which can improve running economy—how efficiently you use oxygen while running. “The more economical you are, the less oxygen you will use, and the longer you can sustain a given pace,” says Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Test It: Push-Up

Start in a high plank position, shoulders over wrists, core, glutes, and legs engaged. Bend elbows to lower chest to the floor. Your elbows should point back at a 45-degree angle. Keeping core engaged and hips in line with the rest of your body, push back up to the starting position.

Zack Kutos

Improve It: Push-Up to Knee Touch

Start in a high plank position with wrists directly under shoulders, core and glutes engaged so body forms a straight line from head to heels. Bend elbows to lower chest to floor to perform a push up. Press back up to high plank, then bend left knee to touch right palm. Return left foot and right hand to start and repeat the push-up. Touch right knee to left palm. Continue to repeat. Do two to three sets of 10 to 25 reps, resting 30 seconds between sets.

Lower-Body Strength

The repetitive motion of running, in which you’re using the same muscles in the same way over and over again, can strengthen some muscles more than others. “An imbalance between opposing muscle groups, such as your quadriceps and hamstrings, can lead to muscle pulls and knee pain,” Holland says. “Strength training can balance out the lower body and prevent those types of injuries.”

Test It: Squat

Stand with feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly out, and hands clasped in front of chest. Send hips back to drop down to a squat position. Straighten legs to return to standing, keeping chest lifted and without rounding your back. Repeat.

Zack Kutos

Improve It: Walking Lunge

Stand holding dumbbells at your sides. Take a giant step forward with left leg, and right knee toward floor. Both knees should form a 90-degree angle. Press into left heel to rise back up to standing, then repeat with right leg. Continue “walking” for 20 paces, 10 on each leg. Do three sets, resting 60 seconds in between.


A flexible body is worth striving for—it’s more efficient, sees more gains in strength and endurance, enjoys more range of motion, and recovers more quickly. When your muscles are long and pliable, blood flows more freely. This means your muscles, ligaments, and tendons are better nourished and able to rebound faster after you run, says Cathy Morse, a yoga instructor and marathoner in Charleston, South Carolina.

Test It: Reclining Hamstring Stretch

Matt Rainey

Lie faceup on a mat. Loop a strap or belt around the arch of your right foot, and hold the ends of the strap in each hand. Extend right leg straight up and straighten it as much as possible while pressing your heel toward the ceiling. Walk your hands up the strap until elbows are straight. Gently bring your leg as close to your head as possible. Note the angle of the right leg in respect to your left leg.

Zack Kutos

Improve It: Forward Fold

Beth Bischoff

Stand with glutes against a wall and feet six to 12 inches from the wall’s base. Bend forward and place your palms on the floor or a yoga block. To make it harder: Move your feet closer to the wall. Do this stretch postrun. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Do three reps.


Running is an intricate one-foot balancing act. To stay steady on your feet, nerve endings in your joints and muscles (called proprioceptors) sense changes in your body position. Improving your balance can enhance the ability of these proprioceptors to anticipate movement changes so your runs are smoother and faster. Besides, studies show that balance naturally declines with age if you don’t actively work on it.

Test It: Tree Pose

IAN HOOTONGetty Images

Start standing. Draw right knee to chest to grab right foot. Place right foot against your left leg either above or below the knee (whichever is available to you). Start timing. Stop timing when your left foot moves or you lose your balance. Repeat on the other leg. Average the times by adding them together and dividing the result by two.

Zack Kutos

Improve It: One Legged Squat

Beth Bischoff

Place a stability ball between your lower back and a wall. Lift your right foot off the ground and lower down into a squat. Push back to start—but don’t lower your right foot. That’s one rep. Continue for eight to 10 reps, and then repeat on the other leg.

Joint Mobility

Most runners realize their muscular flexibility could use some work, but they don’t think about the range of motion of their joints. Joint mobility is a measure of how effectively you are able to move your ankles, knees, and hips through a normal range of motion. When these joints are tight, your body recruits other muscles, which then become overworked and vulnerable to injury, says Craig Rasmussen, C.S.C.S., a fitness coach in Newhall, California.

Test It: Overhead Squat

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Press a lightweight bar or resistance band overhead. Send hips back to squat down as low as possible, without letting the bar/band fall forward (keep your chest lifted). Return to standing and repeat for two more reps. Repeat the test with your heels elevated on a two-inch-high board.

Zack Kutos

Improve It: Squat Thrust

Start standing then send hips back and lower down into a deep squat with chest lifted, hands on floor between legs, and butt lower than knees. Shift weight to hands then jump feet back behind you to come into a high plank position. Quickly jump feet back to hands to return to a deep squat with chest lifted. Straighten legs to stand. Continue to repeat for 10 reps.


Whether you’re interested in running a personal record or simply finishing your morning five-miler in less time, most of us are interested in getting faster. What you may not realize, though, is that speed training can help prevent injury because it demands that muscles fire hard for a split second. This requires more power than slogging out miles, and therefore builds more muscle that can protect you from the wear and tear of distance running, says Martin Rooney, C.S.C.S., chief operating officer of the Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

Test It: Lap Test

Go to a track and warm up with an easy 10-minute run. Then, using your watch to time yourself, run one lap (400 meters or one quarter of a mile) as quickly as possible. If a track isn’t accessible, run a quarter-mile on a measured stretch of flat road.

Zack Kutos

Improve It: Speed Drills

“There are two ways to get faster: Increase stride frequency and length,” Rooney says. This first drill trains your brain and your muscles to communicate super fast—so your muscles fire quickly to improve stride frequency. The second works the hamstrings and glutes, the two muscle groups that control stride length.

  1. Quick Step Drill: Take as many short steps as possible—as quickly as possible—for five yards. Walk five yards, then repeat. Do three sets of five reps. Rest 30 seconds between sets.
  2. Straight Leg Bound: Run 30 yards, taking as big of a stride as possible while keeping legs straight. Rest 60 seconds. Repeat up to five times.


Endurance can be thought of as how well all of your systems work together: Your heart-stroke volume (the amount of oxygenated blood pumped to the muscles with every beat), your muscle strength and efficiency (the muscles’ ability to turn that O2 into energy they need to contract), your metabolism (how efficiently you metabolize fat and carbohydrates to use for fuel and flush out lactate build-up, believed to be a cause of muscle fatigue), and your neuromuscular system (the ability of your brain and body to communicate about which muscles to contract and when). Sure, you work on your endurance every time you head out for a run, but the only way to track your progress is to have a controlled test that gauges how well these systems work together. Peter Park, C.S.C.S., fitness expert for, developed this tempo-run test that measures your endurance in 45 minutes.

Test It: Treadmill Tempo

  1. Set a 1 percent incline. Warm up at an easy pace for 10 minutes.
  2. Do a 30-minute tempo run at 85 percent of your maximum effort. This is a bit slower than your 10K race pace—an 8 on a scale of difficulty from 1 to 10.
  3. Cool down for five minutes, and note the distance you covered during that 30-minute tempo run. (It might be easier for you to gauge that distance if you reset the treadmill after your warmup.)

Zack Kutos

Improve It: Endurance Builders

Pick two of these three workouts, and do them on nonconsecutive days each week.

  1. Run a lap of a track at 5K race pace with 30 seconds of recovery between reps. If you scored Fair, do eight laps; if you scored Good, do 10; if you scored Great, do 12.
  2. Do mile repeats 20 seconds faster than your 5K race pace. Rest one minute between reps. If you scored Fair, do three; Good, do five; Great, do eight.
  3. If you scored Fair, do a 12-minute tempo run at 85 percent effort. If you scored Good, do two; if you scored Great, do three.

Cardiovascular Strength

If your workouts are always at the same, comfortable pace, your cardiovascular system probably isn’t as fit as it could be. “You need to move out of your comfort zone and force your heart to work harder and act more quickly in order to improve your cardiovascular fitness,” says Tim Church, Ph.D., a professor at Louisiana State University. Your heart is like any other muscle: When it’s challenged, it grows stronger, and when it’s stronger, it can pump more blood with each beat, delivering more oxygen-rich blood to your muscles so they can perform their best.

Test It: Step Up

The best, most accurate way to measure cardiovascular strength is to find a gym that tests. But a simple step test can give you a general idea of where your blood-pumping engine stands. Using a 12-inch-high step (or the second stair of a flight in your house), step on and off for three minutes. Step up with one foot and then the other. Step down the same way. Try to maintain a steady, consistent four-beat cycle, “up, up, down, down.” Aim for about 24 steps per minute. After three minutes, sit down and immediately check your heart rate—place your fingertips on the side of your throat and count the beats for one minute.

Zack Kutos

Improve It: Hill Repeats

Hill training forces muscles to recruit two to three times more muscle fibers than flat-land running, which makes it a great way to improve your cardiovascular strength, Park says. Do it once a week.
Find a hill that’s two to three blocks long and that has a gradual incline—not too steep. After a 10-minute warmup, run up the hill at 80 to 85 percent effort, trying to maintain a consistent pace. This should feel slightly slower than your 10K pace. When you reach the top, run slowly back down (recover for about one minute). If you scored Fair, do six hills; if you scored Good, do eight; if you scored Great, do 10.


Maintaining good posture when you run allows you to breathe fully and prevents you from leaning forward excessively and putting too much stress on your knees, lower legs, and . But many runners’ trapezius muscles can become overactive when their upper back rounds too much and their head juts forward, says Craig Rasmussen, C.S.C.S., a fitness coach in Newhall, California. This creates upper-body tension that trickles down and throws off the alignment of the pelvis, hips, and legs, which can contribute to injuries.

Test It: Wall Stand

Stand with your back against a wall, feet hip-width apart and about 12 inches from the base. With palm facing toward the wall, place one hand on the small of your lower back as you press your lower back lightly against the back of your hand.

Zack Kutos

Improve It:

These exercises improve your thoracic mobility (spine flexibility), which prevents your back from rounding forward when you run. Do each exercise daily.

Thoracic Spine Roll

Lie faceup with a foam roller positioned below the base of your neck at the top of your shoulder blades. Slowly roll down to just below the bottom of your shoulder blades, then back up. Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.

Quadruped Rotation Extension

Start on all fours with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Place the palm of your right hand on the back of your head. Bring the right elbow down toward your left knee. Next, rotate and extend the upper half of your torso by bringing the right elbow toward the ceiling. Repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps.

How fit are you?

How fit are you? A healthy body and mind will make it easier to survive and thrive your teenage years. Looking after your body by exercising regularly, eating well, getting regular sleep and reducing stress can make you feel good. Feeling good about yourself can affect the way you think and feel. It can give you the confidence to help you to achieve what you want in life. How do you see yourself? Are you cruising along without a care in the world? Well, OK this might be a bit too much to ask, but when you feel good about yourself, life becomes easier and you are more likely to succeed. You are the only one driving your future, so take control of the wheel. It is not important to know exactly what you want to do, but you can make choices on the direction you want to head. And it iss good to have some kind of road map, a general plan. That way it is not as easy to get lost. So what do you want from your future? What are you meant to do with your life. Right now it may seem like a really big question that is too difficult to answer, but it is never too early to start thinking about it.

If you have got some sort of guide for the future it means that the steps you take now ̢?? today Рare steps in the direction you want. It is exciting to think that you are driving your future, so take control of the wheel. It is not important to know exactly what you want to do, but you can make choices on the direction you want to head. And it is good to have some kind of road map, a general plan. That way it is not as easy to get lost. A lot of people, however, just can̢??t figure out what they want to be when they grow up. Some of them reach their sixties still in that condition. It is just important to try things. The more you try the more options you have and you often find out what you DO want to do by discovering what you DO NOT want to do.

Created by: FitnessQueen

How fit am I compared to the population

OwnIndex is is an evaluation of maximal oxygen uptake, VO2max, in ml min-1kg-1. In the following, classification of VO2max values is presented in men and women of the age 20-65 years representing the age groups with whom the Polar Fitness Test has been developed. The classification is based on a study by Shvartz & Reibold (1990). Laboratory measured VO2max values have been collected from adults in USA, Canada and 7 European countries.

MEN: Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max, ml min-1kg-1)

WOMEN: Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max, ml min-1kg-1)

In a population:

  • 11 % of the people belong to classes 1-2 and 6-7
  • 22 % in classes 3 and 5
  • 34 % in class 4

This corresponds to normal distribution, “Gaussian distribution”, because the classification has been developed in representative samples of individuals from different countries. Top athletes in endurance sports typically score VO2max values (ml min-1kg-1) above 70 (men) and 60 (women). Regular exercisers participating occasionally in competition events score 60-70 (men) and 50-60 (women). Individuals exercising regularly, but not in competitive level, have values between 40-60 (men) and 30-50 (women) and sedentary adults most probably below 40 (men) and 30 (women).

Fitness class is a useful reference when interpreting the individual fitness test results. Because cardiovascular health is related to aerobic fitness:

  • The people in classes 1-3 would most probably obtain many heath benefits and improve their fitness by starting regular exercise.
  • Those in class 4 should at least maintain their exercise habits to ensure better health. However, increase in exercise is recommended for fitness improvement.
  • The people in classes 5-7 most probably already have good health, and their exercise increase targets to improve their performance.


Shvartz, Reibold. Aerobic fitness norms for males and females aged 6 to 75 years: a review. Aviat Space Environ Med 61, 3-11, 1990.

11 Signs You’re Probably More Fit Than You Think You Are

While we often are hard on ourselves when it comes to fitness, as comparisons to professional athletes can make us feel inferior or average in the health world, we should give ourselves way more credit, as deserved. By looking for signs that we are more fit than we think we are, we can instantly boost our confidence and fitness levels through shifting our perspectives, feeling proud and accomplished, and focusing on our own strengths, rather than comparing to others.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on finding forms of fitness that work for their preferences and schedules. Together, we commit to follow through on exercise sessions and goals, and we track progress as weeks progress with new exercise routines and eating plans. However, sometimes a client will have a weak day, where he or she gives in to a sugary craving and skips a workout. When these slip-ups happen, it’s possible to let confidence plummet and to feel less toned, fit and strong as you had before. However, a few mishaps don’t make that much of a difference (unless it turns into a long-term pattern), and we shouldn’t let a negative perspective get in the way of our fitness improvements and strengths that are real and tangible. Look for these eleven signs to know that you are more fit than you think you are.

1. You Find Yourself Standing Throughout The Day

“It’s common that highly active people are just that: active. They stand more than they sit and are often even more fidgety as well,” says Nutrition Coach Darin Hulslander, over email with Bustle. “If you stand just as much as you sit each day or even stand for a few minutes every hour — chances are you’re fitter than you think,” he adds. Pay attention to your tendencies and needs for sitting in order to judge your level of fitness.

2. You’re Mentally Sharp At Work

If you notice you have great mental alertness and cognitive skills at work, since you’ve embarked on exercise plans, than you are fitter than you think. “You’re a great organizer and problem solver,” says Hulslander. “Research proves that those who exercise have younger brains than those who don’t. This increases your ability to problem solve, organize and even manage stressful situations,” he adds.

3. You Recover Quickly

If you test yourself with a few sprints or bouts of high-intensity body moves, and you’re able to recover rather quickly, then you’re fitter than you think you are and can endure much more. “How fast do you recover from an all out or an extended effort,” asks running coach and personal trainer Susie Lemmer, over email with Bustle. “The true test of fitness is recovery time,” she adds. Do short bursts to see how your body feels after.

4. You Crave Healthy Foods

If you find yourself craving whole foods, such as oatmeal, Greek yogurt, salmon, salads and fresh fruit, rather than processed goods, refined carbohydrates, high-sugar and fattening foods, then you’re likely to be fitter than you think. People who are in better shape can manipulate and alter their hormones to reduce unhealthy cravings and increase the desire for healthy, nutritious foods.

5. Your Sex Life Is Active

If you find yourself having great energy and openness in bed, then you’re likely to be fitter than you think. Sex can burn a number of calories and requires much effort, so if you are able to let loose, be frisky and hold your own under the sheets, then your body is in a better, more capable position of being active and maintaining stamina.

6. You’re Able To Shop All Day

If you’re able to run around all day doing errands from store to store (which can be a good four or five hours), without needing a break, then your body is in prime position of fitness and endurance levels. Plus, think of all the bags you’ll be carrying! If you are able to withstand the weights on both arms and shoulders, then you’re much more powerful than you think.

7. You Can Do The Most Basic Fitness Tests

There are certain fitness tests that can measure levels of fitness, and while these are not the best and only judge, as they leave room for inaccuracies, they provide a nice template for a base of testing and average comparisons to get a better perspective as to whether you truly are fit or not. Put yourself to the test, and do a few of the exercises on these assessments to see how you measure up.

8. Stairs Are No Problem For You

No matter how long you spend on the elliptical, walking or running up the stairs activates certain muscle groups that might not necessarily be turned on as much when we are working out in standard cardio classes and sessions. If you are able to walk (or even run) up and down the stairs without feeling lightheaded and gasping for air, then you are in better shape then you might think.

9. You Work Out Because You Love It

If your workouts are no longer planned based on weight loss or immediate goals, but rather for the purity of endorphin-boosting happiness and the love of getting sweaty and doing something beneficial for your body, then you are in a fitter mindset and body than you had imagined. People who are fit do fitness because it’s a part of them and it brings them joy. The internal validation triumphs external goals.

10. You’re Able To Do Various Types Of Workouts

If your body is able to excel at different types of moves, intensities, circuits and classes, then it’s in a fitter state and has greater strength in a multitude of muscle groups. Plus, varying your workout is not only better for performance, but also mood, as it beats boredom. Try working with kettle bells, training machines, row machines, HIIT body-weight exercises, TRX bands, slam balls, and more and see how well your body can tackle all the new repertoire.

11. You Can Balance Well

Getting in a long run or spending an hour on an elliptical machine can inform you that you have great endurance levels; however, they don’t require much balance, as is needed for more body-weight exercises, yoga and everyday movements in life. A great test of fitness is balance, as it is so related to our body’s tendencies to stand up right, have its muscles and joints function optimally and symmetrically, and stay strong throughout the core.

No matter how many hours you can spend on a cardio machine or pounding the pavement on a long run, there are greater ways to test just how fit and active you really are. If you have a bad day or go on vacation, your fitness won’t deteriorate and your body can probably handle the short-term rest. As long as it doesn’t become a habit, be confident that you are way more fit and capable of sustaining fitness than you had imagined.

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The test of fitness

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