What's your fitness level? One way to find out is to take the Adult Fitness Test from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. It involves three components of fitness:
- Aerobic or cardiovascular fitness. To measure this, time how long it takes you to walk 1 mile or run 1.5 miles.
- Muscular strength/endurance. This is tested by seeing how many sit-ups you can do in one minute, and how many pushups you can do until exhaustion.
- Flexibility. This is measured by the “sit-and-reach” test, in which you sit on the floor with your legs straight out and reach forward as far as possible. It tests flexibility of your lower back and hamstring muscles (the back of the thighs).
The website provides instructions on how to perform each test. You need a watch with a second hand (or stopwatch), a mat or rug, masking tape and a tape measure; it helps to work with a partner. After you enter your results online (along with your age, sex and weight), the site calculates a fitness score and a ranking within your age group. There are also guidelines on how to improve your fitness with different exercise programs. You can thus get a baseline fitness score and then follow your progress.
Precaution: This test is for healthy adults. If you don’t exercise regularly or if you have any medical conditions, consult your health care provider first. Stop if you experience any unusual symptoms, such as chest discomfort, excessive shortness of breath or pain.