Fitness Markers

A funny thing happened to me on the way to Bowden, Georgia. I started losing progress in my ongoing pursuit of more muscle.

David has a saying, “You don’t own your level of fitness.” No truer words have ever been spoken. Although I was crazy fit while I was swimming so much… and lifting weights… and running, as I slowly quit doing as much and started ripping up and down the road, sitting on my assets, all hell was breaking lose, and the whole time. I was at my Weight Watcher goal but I was overweight for my frame and getting soft.

I was working for Weight Watcher’s as a Receptionist and Digital Expert and I was working hard to maintain and improve my level of fitness. Although I was not as fit as I am now, I was holding my own…and then it happened, Weight Watcher’s asked me to travel. On Thursdays I traveled about 300 miles and spent 6 hours in the car. I had been doing that for about 6 months when I began David’s Way. When I started lifting the barbell, I could only lift 35#. I was stunned because I am the woman who picked up the 50# bag of dog food with one hand and tossed it into my buggy just because I could.

As I hoisted that 35# onto my shoulders and squatted to the floor, I was shocked at how hard it was to stand back up. This was the woman who had been swimming 2 hours/day 5-7 days/week for 10 years…until a couple of years previous. Since that time, I had been working out in my basement, doing circuit training and my weight machine, a pulley system and walking a hiking trail for a mile most days, even running. I assumed that I was fit but I was nowhere close.

When I began David’s Way and began heavy lifting, I created a starting point for my progress. It was not as good as I would have thought, but a marker for my fitness level was necessary so that I could measure my progress. Now, with a lifestyle that includes a finely tuned strength training program, I know exactly where I stand and exactly where I want to go and, after 10 months, I am the fittest that I have ever been in my life. David’s Way works and there is no end in sight for me.

Allowing the lifting lifestyle to become my norm is constantly and consistently changing me in so many ways, inside and out. Because the Iron always tears down and then builds up, that process has become the air that I breath in that I have learned to weed out the negative and replace it with positive throughout my life. We can’t always make the necessary changes immediately but whenever we become aware of a negative factor in our lives, we must tear it down and rebuild. Having clear cut measurements of our fitness levels is mandatory for ongoing progress.

What an opening from my bad ass friend and co-author Brenda Sue. At 62 years old, Brenda absolutely gets what is important in a quality physical fitness regimen, having markers. Markers for a baseline measurement and further markers for future goals. We need these markers, they are necessary for success in physical fitness, yet many have none. None at all, as evident by our nations obesity epidemic. It is not only adults who are failing to meet minimum fitness markers, it is our nations young people too. In fact, it is getting difficult for the US Military to find enough young recruits who are even fit enough to ship off to Basic Training. What I want to lay out is basic fitness markers everybody who does not have a disability should be able to meet. Sadly, too many of our fellow citizens can not even come close. I have compiled standards set forth by the esteemed Mayo Clinic for you to consider trying to meet for a healthy life.

You likely have at least a vague idea of how fit you may or may not be. Knowing specifically where you stand is going to help you set a realistic goal in achieving at least a basic level of fitness. If you know your starting point, then you can develop a personal plan where you can decide exactly where you want to go with an exercise regimen.

General fitness is assessed in four key areas: aerobic, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition.

Aerobic Fitness, Heart rate at rest

Your heart rate at rest is a measure of heart health and fitness. For most adults, a healthy heart rate is 60 to 100 beats a minute.

Aerobic Fitness, Target heart rate zone

The target heart rate zone is an increase in your heart rate at 50 to 75 percent of the maximum heart rate for your age. You want it great enough to give your heart and lungs a good workout.

Age Target, Heart Rate, and Maxium Heart Rate

  • Age 25 is 98 to 146 bpm with a max of 195 bpm
  • Age 35 is 93 to 138 bpm with a max of 185 bpm
  • Age 45 is 88 to 131 bpm with a max of 175 bpm
  • Age 55 is 83 to 123 bpm with a max of 165 bpm
  • Age 65 is 78 to 116 bpm with a max of 155 bpm

The heart rate numbers will change with your level of fitness. The more fit you are, the higher rate you will be able to tolerate during vigorous exercise.

Aerobic Fitness, Running or jogging test

A good strategy to test your level of fitness is to time yourself on a 1.5 mile run or jog. The following numbers are considered indicators of a good fitness level based on age and sex. A lower time generally indicates better aerobic fitness, while a higher nuber means you need to gt busy at improving yourself.

Age, Women time in minutes, men time in minutes to complete 1.5 mile run/jog

  • 25, women: 13 minutes, men: 11 minutes
  • 35, women: 13.5 minutes, men: 11.5 minutes
  • 45, women: 14 minutes, men: 12 minutes
  • 55, women: 16 minutes, men: 13 minutes
  • 65, women: 17.5 minutes, men: 14 minutes

If these times seem too short for you, then consider building up by utilizing a program such as Couch to 5k where you begin by walking and work your way up to a 5k or 3 mile run. If you are cleared by your doctor, there is no reason to wait to begin a program of aerobic conditioning.

Muscular Strength and Endurance: Push up test

Push ups can help you measure muscular strength and endurance. If you are a newbie to physical fitness, it is acceptable to do modified push ups from your knees. If you are able to do at least a couple standard push ups, then do as many as you can. You can push yourself and then begin modified push ups and continue to muscular failure at least 3 to 4 times per week. Note, ensure you do your reps for a full range of motion and do not let the momentum of speed help you, Cheating is not going to get you stronger.

Good fitness results for push up counts:

  • 25, women: 20 men: 28
  • 35, women: 19 men: 21
  • 45, women: 14 men: 16
  • 55, women: 10 men: 12
  • 65, women: 10 men: 11

Muscular Strength and Endurance: Situp test

The situp test measures the strength and enduance of your abdominal muscles. Do these strict and again, do not use momentum to get them done, also do not bounce your butt off the floor to do them, If you get to doing them in that manner, you are no longer doing actual situps and it is time to quit.

Good fitness results for as many situps as you can do in one minute:

  • 25, women: 39 men: 44
  • 35, women: 30 men: 40
  • 45, women: 25 men: 35
  • 55, women: 21 men: 30
  • 65, women: 12 men: 24

Flexibility: Sit and reach test

The sit and reach test is a simple way to measue the flexibility of the back of your elgs, hips and lower back. Those who spend most of their day sitting are going to find they will likely have a difficult time with this as prolonged sitting causes atrophy in your hip flexors which will hinder your ability to complete this test.

Here is how to do this test:

  1. Place a yard stick on the floor. Secure it by placing a piece of tape across it at the 15 inch mark.
  2. Place the soles of your feet even with the 15 inch mark on the yar stick.
  3. Slowly reach forward as far as you can, exhaling as you reach and holding the position for at least 1 second.
  4. Note the distance you reached.
  5. Repeat the test 2 more times.
  6. Record the best of 3 reaches.

Good results for the sit and reach test:

  • 25, women: 21.5 inches men: 19.5 inches
  • 35, women: 20.5 inches men: 18.5 inches
  • 45, women: 20 inches men: 17.5 inches
  • 55, women: 19 inches men: 16.5 inches
  • 65, women: 17.5 inches men: 15.5 inches

Body Composition: Waist circumference

If the circumference of your waist is greater than your hips, if you carry more weight above the hips, you have an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The risk is even greater for women if waist circumference is 35 inches or more and for men if waist circumference is 40 inches or more.

Keep yourself active!

The results of these fitness assessments can help you set goals for staying active and improving your level of fitness. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends one of the following activity levels for adult fitness and health benefits:

  • 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity weekly plus muscle strengthening activities two to three days a week.
  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly plus muscle strengthening activities two or more days per week.
  • An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity plus muscle strengthening activities two or more days a week.

Moderate aerobic activity includes:

  • Walking fast
  • Water aerobics
  • Bicycling on mostly level ground
  • Pushing a lawn mower

Vigorous aerobic activity includes:

  • Running
  • Swimming laps
  • Fast bicycling or biking hills
  • Playing basketball or soccer
  • Playing singles tennis

Muscle Strengthening activities include:

  • Lifting weights
  • Calisthenics that use body weight for resistance
  • Heavy gardening or yard work

Monitor your progress!

Keep track of your progress in improving your fitness. Take the same measurements about six weeks after you begin an exercise program and periodically afterwards. Every time you repeat your assessment, celebrate your progress and adjust your fitness goals accordingly.

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