It is always nice to be able to have an objective measure of how fit and healthy we are. So I was really interested to catch this blog (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-eight-simple-fitness-tests-we-should-all-be-doing-every-month-d3jsc62b3) which identifies eight simple tests we can complete to check our current state of fitness.
I liked the article, so wanted to share with you.
In summary the eight tests that it is suggested we try once a month are
- HOW FAST CAN YOU CLIMB STAIRS?
The test Time yourself climbing four flights of stairs. If you manage it in 45 to 55 seconds without stopping, you have a good fitness level. Under one minute is fine, but higher than that suggests that you need to increase your gym work.
What it predicts Risk of dying from cancer and heart disease.
How it works Frequent stair-climbing has been linked to lowered blood pressure, reduced risk of disease and improved fitness in numerous studies.
Dr Jesus Peteiro says. “If you can walk very fast up three floors of stairs without stopping or fast up four flights without stopping, you have good functional capacity. If not, it’s a good indication that you need more exercise.”
- HOW LONG CAN YOU STAND ON ONE LEG?
The test Stand with your eyes open and raise one leg off the floor. Time how long you can maintain that position. Your aim is longer than 20 seconds.
What it predicts Your risk of stroke, small blood vessel damage in the brain and reduced cognitive function as you age.
How it works
The maximum time anyone managed the one-leg stand was 60 seconds, but those who wobbled before 20 seconds were found to have small blood vessel damage, which, said the associate professor Yasuharu Tabara, the study’s author, “may indicate an increased risk for brain disease and cognitive decline”.
When you can manage 20 seconds, try doing it with your eyes closed. According to the UK’s Medical Research Council, a study of people in their fifties showed that those who could stand on one leg for ten seconds with their eyes closed were the most likely to be fit and well in 13 years. If they managed only two seconds, they were three times as likely to die before the age of 66.
- HOW FAST DO YOU WALK?
The test Use an app such as Strava (or a stopwatch to time yourself over a measured distance) to find out how many kilometres you cover in an hour of walking. Your aim is a brisk pace of 5-7km/h (or 2.5-3.5km in half an hour).
What it predicts Your risk of heart disease.
How it works In June a study of 50,000 people by researchers at the University of Sydney, in collaboration with the universities of Edinburgh, Limerick and Ulster, showed that the quicker your walking pace, the lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly as you get older.
The results in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that fast walkers aged 60 or over had a 53 per cent lower risk of death from cardiovascular causes. Walking at a brisk pace was also linked with a 24 per cent reduction in the risk of death from all causes over a 16-year period compared with dawdling, while an average pace also brought benefits, cutting the risk of mortality by about a fifth.
- CAN YOU SCRATCH YOUR UPPER BACK?
The test Place one hand behind the shoulder on the same side with the palm of your hand against your skin and fingers extended and the other hand behind the back, fingers extended. Ask someone to measure the number of centimetres your middle fingers are short of touching (a minus score) or overlapping each other (a plus score). Your aim is to try to get fingertips touching.
What it predicts Upper-body flexibility and postural decline.
How it works Kim Saha, a physiotherapist, says that too much sitting and slouching has a terrible effect on our shoulder flexibility. “Often we are unaware that we are becoming more hunched over our phones and our desks, and that it can have an impact on our future health,” Saha says. “Failure to address a downturn in upper-body flexibility can cause serious problems and pain down the line.”
- CAN YOU DO 30 SQUATS IN UNDER A MINUTE?
The test The aim is to perform a deep squat — lowering your bottom as close to the floor as you can — 30 times in 45 to 60 seconds.
What it predicts Overall cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility and strength.
How it works
“Maintaining your ability to do squats is very important as you get to middle age and beyond,” says Dalton Wong, the founder of Twenty Two Training. “Performed in quick succession, they will work your heart and lungs, but the exercise also engages the major muscles in the lower body, improving posture, strength and range of movement.”
- HOW FAT ARE YOU?
The test Calculate your BMI (body mass index) by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by the square of your height (in metres). Below 18.5 is underweight, 18.5 to 24.9 is healthy, above 24.9 is too heavy, and above 30 is obese.
What it predicts Your overall health risk.
How it works Using BMI as a measure of fitness and health drifts in and out of vogue in the medical profession. It’s controversial because it doesn’t take into account muscle mass and distribution, but the latest study, conducted by epidemiologists at the University of Bristol, suggests that it is as accurate as fat testing for predicting some health problems.
- HOW MANY PUSH-UPS CAN YOU DO WITHOUT STOPPING?
The test Perform as many consecutive full push-ups as you can without stopping. Then compare your score with the American College of Sports Medicine tables below.
What it predicts Cardio-metabolic health and frailty or risk of falling as you get older.
How it works “Push-ups are a measure of strength endurance, a combination of pure strength and the sort of endurance you need for aerobic exercise like running, swimming and cycling,” Brewer says. “Because they engage muscles in the legs, core and upper body, push-ups are considered a supreme all-round exercise and your ability to perform them is a good pointer towards your overall fitness.” If you are unable to do a full press-up, try modified ones with your knees on the ground.
Men: 36 (excellent), 28 (good), 16 (needs improvement)
Women: 30 (excellent), 20 (good), 9 (needs improvement)
Men: 30 (excellent), 21 (good), 11 (needs improvement)
Women: 27 (excellent), 19 (good), 7 (needs improvement)
Men: 25 (excellent), 16 (good), 9 (needs improvement)
Women: 24 (excellent), 14 (good), 4 (needs improvement)
Men: 21 (excellent), 10 (good), 6 (needs improvement)
Women: 21 (excellent), 10 (good), 1 (needs improvement)
Men: 18 (excellent), 10 (good), 4 (needs improvement)
Women: 17 (excellent, 11 (good), 1 (needs improvement)
- THE SIT-AND-RISE TEST
The test Stand upright with clear space around you. Without leaning on anything, lower yourself to a sitting position on the floor. Then stand back up, trying not to use your hands, knees, forearms or sides of your legs. Start with 10 points and subtract 1 point for putting a hand, forearm or knee on the floor and another point for putting a hand on your knee. If you lose balance subtract 0.5 of a point. Tally your final score.
What it predicts Flexibility, balance, muscle strength and longevity.
How it works Brazilian scientists reporting in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in 2012 used this simple test to predict the longevity of more than 2,000 people aged 51 to 80. Those who scored fewer than eight points in the test were found to be twice as likely to die within the next six years compared with those who scored a higher number of points. People who scored three or fewer points were more than five times as likely to die within the same period compared with those who scored more than eight points.