Question: I’ve just started working out again regularly. I think I’m getting fitter, but I’d love to know a few simple tests I could do to keep track of my progress. Can you suggest some?
Answer: Keeping on top of your fitness progress is an excellent way to stay motivated. Don’t be discouraged if your scores aren’t stellar; just keep working to gradually improve your results.
Here are four quick assessments (used by fitness professionals) that show how you measure up, plus an exercise or strategy to help boost each score before you try it again. (Click on the links for complete instructions.) Use your first results as a benchmark, and reassess yourself every three to four weeks.
1. Reebok one-mile walk test (to assess your cardiovascular endurance)
Use Google Maps to trace out a one-mile loop in your neighbourhood, then see how quickly you can walk it. To improve your score, add three or four quick-paced walks (include a few short speed intervals) to your weekly routine.
2. Sit and reach test (to assess your hamstring and back flexibility)
How close can you get your fingers to your toes? To improve this score, place one foot on a step and, keeping that leg straight, reach your chest forward until you feel your back thigh stretching. Hold for 30 seconds; repeat twice on each leg.
3. Plank test (to assess your core strength)
This assessment requires you to hold a plank position. Too easy? Try this more advanced version.. To improve your score, practise the plank, abdominal curls or any other favourite ab exercise.
4. Waist measurement test (to assess your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes)
Pull out the measuring tape and simply measure your waistline for a look at the future of your health. If you’re not happy with the results, get moving with regular walking, swimming, running or dancing to burn off calories, and pay extra attention to your diet.
Barb Gormley is a certified personal trainer and a freelance health and fitness writer. You can contact her at www.barbgormley.com.