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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Do It Yourself Fitness Tests

If you are going to stay true to your commitment to improve your physical fitness in 2010, you need a game plan. The first step is to determine if it is safe for you to exercise. Completing the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire can help you to decide if you need to seek the approval of a physician prior to beginning a program. Once you have confirmed that it is safe for you to start exercising, the next step in your plan of action is to get a fitness assessment.

Exercise centers and fitness facilities may offer this service to you as part of a package. However, if this option is not available to you, or if you choose not to spend the money on having an evaluation done, there are simple fitness assessment tests that you can perform in the comfort of your own home. Getting an objective measure of your current cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility is of benefit to you in many ways:
  • Knowledge of your starting point will help you to set attainable goals.
  • Allows you to develop an exercise program that focuses on the components of fitness upon which you need to improve (e.g., adding extra time for stretching activities to improve flexibility)
  • Baseline values provide a measure for improvement and an evaluation of your progress when compared to results of future tests.
  • Serves as a means for motivation.
Below are 5 basic fitness tests you can perform. They are commonly used field fitness tests. For more information regarding the tests, visit TopendSports. Most require the help of another individual. Items that are needed for each individual test are listed with the description of the test. A warm-up of about 5 minutes should be performed before initiating any of the tests. If you choose to do all of the tests in one day, allow a period of rest between tests for the most accurate results.

Step Test: measures cardiovascular endurance
Equipment: a step/bench that is 12" in height and a stop watch
Technique: Have someone time you for 3 minutes as you step on and off of the bench at a steady pace. Your stepping pattern should be as follows: Step up with your right foot first, followed by your left. Next, step down with your right foot followed by your left. To maintain a consistent pace state "up, up, down, down" as you perform the sequence. At the end of the 3 minutes, immediately sit down and take your pulse for 1 minute. Refer to the chart found at TopendSports to determine your status. Lower values correspond with a higher level of fitness.

Modified Step Test: measures cardiovascular endurance and is recommended for older adults and individuals who have difficulty balancing
Equipment: tape and stop watch
Technique: Stand up against a wall and have someone mark on the wall, with tape, the midpoint between your knee and the top of your hip bone. Next, have the individual time you for 2 minutes while you march in place. As you march in place, your goal is to bring your knees to the height of the tape on the wall. During the 2 minutes, have the person count the number of times you bring your right knee to that height. If needed, you may support yourself on the wall or a chair. Refer to the chart at TopendSports to determine your status.

Wall Sit Test: measures lower body strength
Equipment: stop watch
Technique: Sit with your back flat against a wall and your knees bent to 90 degrees. Lift one foot off of the floor. Have someone time how long you can maintain this position, starting the time when you lift your foot off of the ground. Rest. Repeat with your other leg. Refer to the chart at TopendSports to determine your status.

Pushup Test: measures upper body strength
Equipment: none
Technique: For men, assume the traditional "military style" pushup position (see below). Perform, until fatigue, as many pushups as possible, while counting each one as you complete it. For women, assume either the traditional "military style" pushup position or the "bent knee" position in which you kneel on your knees rather than using your feet to support your lower body. Perform as many pushups as possible, until fatigue, while counting each one as you complete it. Refer to the chart at TopendSports to determine your status.

Sit-up Test: measures core strength (abdominal and hip-flexor muscle strength)
Equipment: stop watch and exercise mat or soft, cushioned surface
Technique: Lie on your back on an exercise mat, with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Keep your hands on your thighs. Tighten your stomach muscles to raise your upper back up off of the floor, brining your shoulders toward your knees. As you raise your back, let your hands slide toward your knees. Once your hands reach the top of your knees, lower your back and shoulders back to the floor. That counts as one sit-up. Have someone time you for 1 minute. Count the number of sit-ups you can complete in this time frame. Refer to the chart at TopendSports to determine your status.

Sit-And-Reach Test: measures flexibility of your back and hamstrings (back of thigh) muscles
Equipment: Step and ruler
Technique: Place the ruler on top of the step. With your shoes removed, sit on the floor with your feet flat against the step and slightly separated so that the ruler is in the middle of them. Your knees should be flat on the ground. Place one hand over the other and lean forward, reaching as far as you can with your hands. Hold the position for a count of two. Have someone measure where the tip of your fingers meet on the ruler. Repeat the test 3 times, taking the best score of the three. Refer to the chart at TopendSports to determine your status.

When performing the above tests, try to accurately follow the procedures. A variance in technique could result in erroneous scores. Do not be discouraged if you do not fare as well as you anticipated. Your objective should be to develop goals and an exercise program that will allow you to improve upon your fitness. After a month of following your exercise routine, repeat the testing.

Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.


ACSM's Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, sixth edition

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been catching up with your blog. For one or another reasons--none of them very good--I fell away from daily readings for some time and realized that I needed to get back in the groove. The information you provide is wonderful. It is easy to read and understand. It is also important. (I'll be working through the assessment in this blog as soon as I'm through writing this.

Finally, I really want to complement you on your writing skills. Your message is always clear and always important!

February 28, 2010 at 7:10 PM 

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