When was the last time your took a complete fitness test?
By middle age, most of us have had at least one fitness test as part of a medical check for a job or life insurance policy. Many of us take the easy way out of judging our fitness by our energy levels. We gauge our energy levels by how tired or energetic we feel. We can also get a good idea of our cardio-vascular fitness by climbing a few flights of stairs, or going for a run. But gauging our fitness in others areas is sometimes not as easy.
Restricted joint movement can be from previous injuries or the onset of age-related degenerative changes. Or maybe, it is just because you have lost your flexibility fitness.
Lack of energy may result from poor sleep or a metabolic disorder, and have no relation to our true fitness. Unless you undertake a complete fitness test you really just don’t know. A typical testing program includes:
- Cardiac Fitness – Step Test
- Flexibility – Trunk and Hip Flexion Tests
- Agility – Zigzag Test
- Balance – Standing Balance Test
- Upper Body Strength – Push Up and Bench Press Tests
- Lower Body Strength – Wall Squat Test
- Core Strength – Crunch Test
- Explosive Power – Burst Test
A comprehensive fitness test is usually carried out by a Fitness and/or Medical Professional using gym equipments and special measuring equipment. However, the tests above can be done at home and give you sufficient accuracy to use effectively in any fitness program.
Along with your fitness tests you will want to take a set of body measures. These will be sued as valuable indicators of functional progress.The range of measures includes:
- Body Frame
- Weight to Height
- Body Mass Index [Body Fat]
- Heart Rate
- Blood Pressure
The real benefit of completing these measures and tests every six months or so, is that it gives you feedback as to what areas of your fitness program you need to change. Most of us have limited time available for staying in shape, so you want to ensure that your efforts will reap the best rewards.
In addition, continuing to play sports in later years requires a more comprehensive training approach. In early years when our joints move freely, muscles are well formed and tendons flexible, we are not so likely to injure ourselves from normal movements.
As we age, our muscles tend to reduce in size and strength, tendons shorten and joints move less freely. These all put additional strain on the body to achieve the same movements, so injury is more likely.
If you don’t feel confident undertaking your own measurements and tests, get a professional to do one for you.
Most Doctors will measure weight, heart rate and blood pressure. But few do a complete physical assessment, unless you specifically ask for one, and in most cases, this means being referred to a diagnostic physician.
The local gym is a good place to get a Fitness Assessment. The instructors are all trained to complete the tests and in many cases, have a better understanding of the interrelated movements of the body than many Doctors, who concentrate more on pathology.
Some fitness tests are best done by professionals as they take you closer to the limits of exertion. This is the case for the Cardio-Stress Test. This test is a more aggressive form of the 3 minute Step Test, but instead of a simple step, it uses an exercise machine such as a treadmill or exercise bike, and an ECG machine. It is a progressive and maximum exercise test; starting from a walking pace and gradually increasing pace. Electrical impulses from the heart tissue are recorded by surface electrodes places on the chest wall. A stress test is useful for detecting early changes in the heart function indicating potential heart disease.
Before you undertake any new fitness program it is recommended to seek medical clearance. It is also important to make sure you have warmed up sufficiently. Sometimes the warm up can be integrated into the test program, such as using the 3-minute step test as a warm up to lower body flexibility tests. Overstraining cold or still muscles to get a better test score is counter-productive, and it is of more value to you to have a true result, rather than an over-stressed, possibly damaging one.