Determine Your Fitness Level

Determine Your Fitness Level

In the broadest sense, physical fitness is your body’s ability to perform physical activity. There are several ways to judge your level of fitness.

Functional Fitness

One of the most basic measures of physical fitness is your functional fitness: your ability to perform daily activities — such as walking, bending, lifting and climbing stairs — without pain or discomfort. Functional fitness comes from having healthy lungs, heart, muscles, bones and joints, and it influences your risk of disease and early death. Good indicators of your functional fitness are the number of minutes you engage in physical activity each week and the number of calories you burn in the process.

Physiological Determinants

Physical fitness can also be measured using a series of physiological assessments that chart how effectively your body rises to the demands of physical activity.

Cardiorespiratory Endurance

Cardiorespiratory endurance, also known as aerobic fitness, is perhaps the best-studied gauge of fitness. Measurements of cardiorespiratory function indicate how efficiently your heart, lungs and blood vessels can supply oxygen to your cells during extended bouts of physical exertion.

Muscle Strength and Muscle Endurance

Measurement of muscle strength assesses the amount of power your muscles are able to exert. Your muscle endurance indicates how long your muscles can work before becoming fatigued.

Flexibility

Flexibility is the ability of your joints to move easily through their entire range of motion. As you age, flexibility becomes increasingly critical for avoiding injury and maintaining independence.

Body Composition.

Also relevant to your overall fitness is your body composition — the proportion of fat you carry in relation to your lean muscle mass. Many diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes, are linked to the accumulation of extra fat, particularly in the abdominal area.

Evaluating Your Fitness Level is not a one-size-fits-all process. Differences in lifestyle, muscle tissue, genetic makeup, and overall health all help determine your personal fitness level. It is an individual measurement that is not always dependent on how much physical activity you do.

The Five Components of Fitness

Measuring fitness is multi-dimensional. Long-distance runners have excellent cardiovascular health, but if all you are is legs and lungs, you won’t have a lot of strength or flexibility. By the same measure, someone who is overweight and aerobically fit is healthier than someone who is in the normal weight range but doesn’t exercise.

Overall physical fitness is said to consist of five different elements:

1.Aerobic or cardiovascular endurance

2.Muscular strength

3.Muscular endurance

4.Flexibility

5.Body composition

Thorough fitness evaluations include exercises and activities that specifically measure your ability to participate in aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise as well as your muscular strength, endurance, and joint flexibility. Special tools are also used to determine your body composition or percentage of total body fat.

Working to optimize each of these five components of fitness is crucial to enhancing your overall fitness and general health.

Develop an Action Plan.

If you have specific health problems, check with your doctor before implementing a routine to boost fitness. Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you have no more excuses. To improve your fitness level, take these important steps:

Follow U.S. guidelines for the minimum amount of exercise. That means exercising at a moderate intensity level for at least 2.5 hours spread over most days each week. At least twice a week, supplement aerobic exercise with weight-bearing activities that target all major muscles. Avoid inactivity; some exercise at any level of intensity is better than none while you’re building up your endurance.

Walking is the easiest way to get started. Get motivated by enlisting a friend to join you and adding variety to your routine. Walking is simple and manageable for anyone. Wear a pedometer from day one. Think of it in three parts: a five-minute warm-up of walking slowly, followed by a fast walk, then a five-minute cool-down of walking slowly.

Compete only against yourself. No matter what activity you choose for getting fit, never compare your progress to someone else’s. “Do set goals, and if you are out of shape and hate exercise, start low and go slow; do not compare yourself with your best friend who weighs 20 pounds less and just finished a marathon. Even if the same group of women walked at the same pace every morning, they would not all show the same fitness measures.

Avoid overexertion. One preventive step is checking your resting heart rate before getting out of bed every morning and making a chart so you can see a consistent, but gradual, decrease over time. If your resting heart rate begins to increase, you may be overdoing it. Another indicator of overexertion is muscle soreness that doesn’t go away after a couple days. People generally err on the side of not pushing themselves enough, but the worst offenders are those who think they can jump in where they left off — the 40-year-old guys who think they are still on the high school football team and start running laps, but end up red in the face.

As you work on improving your fitness, take it slow and steady to avoid injury or burnout.

Above all, remember that – Consistency Is Key — if you keep at it, your hard work will pay off.


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