Saturday, May 4, 2013

How fit are you?

Hi everyone, for this post we'll be delving into the world of fitness, with a little help from my lovely friend and colleague Dannielle Palmer-Gutzmer. Let me know if you like the content because there is much more where this came from. Enjoy!

A few weeks ago, I had gone downstairs to fix myself something to eat before I got settled down to work. I had popped a bag of popcorn and picked up a medium sized Julie mango for dinner (I prefer to eat light in the evenings to avoid the almost inevitable energy dip after eating in addition to the fact that I’m just tired). I took my meal up to my bedroom but realized I had forgotten my bottle of water. As I was making my second trip upstairs, I decided to run upstairs as I had usually done not more than a few months ago. Needless to say, I was a bit surprised when I found that these stairs aren't that easy to sprint up. I know my exercise routine had been on hiatus for a while but surely walking up and down these stairs everyday must have counted for something. So it got me thinking: what does it really mean to be fit? How do you even really know how fit you are? And, how can you improve fitness?

Your level of Fitness refers to your body’s ability to meet the demands of physical tasks while still having energy and strength to feel as good as possible. This doesn't mean you have to be an athlete but it does mean that you should be able to be and feel at your best at all times. This lowers your risk for certain non-communicable lifestyle diseases.

The basic components of fitness include:

Agility - your ability to perform a series of power movements in rapid succession in opposing directions

Balance - your ability to control the body's position, whether its stationary (e.g. boat pose) or while moving

Cardiovascular Endurance – your the heart's ability to deliver blood to working muscles and their ability to use it (think long distance running)

Co-ordination - your  ability to put together all components so that effective movements are achieved

Flexibility – your ability to achieve an extended range of motion without being impeded by excess tissue, i.e. fat or muscle (think of a leg split)

Local Muscle Endurance - a single muscle's ability to perform sustained work (riding a bike)

Power – your ability to exert the most muscular contraction immediately in a fiery burst of movements. The two components of power are strength and speed. (think of Usain Bolt in a sprint race)
Strength - the extent to which your muscles can exert force by contracting against resistance

Strength Endurance – your muscle's ability to perform a maximum contraction time after time

So now that you know what fitness is and the components that are involved, how do you know how fit you are – or if you’re even fit at all?

I’ve found a few simple tests that will help you to determine your fitness level. Feel free try them out.

The 3-Minute Test (Measures (cardiovascular) fitness level based on how quickly your heart rate returns to usual after exercise.

What you’ll need:



What to do: Set the metronome to 96 beats per minute. Stand facing the step. When ready to begin, start the stopwatch and march up and down on the step to the metronome beat (up, up, down, down) for 3 successive minutes. (You can rest if you need to, but remain standing.) When time is up, stop immediately, sit down and count your pulse (use your wrist or neck) for one full minute.


Above Average96-10295-101100-104104-110106-111104-111
Below Average113-120113-119115-120120-124119-127123-126
Very Poor135-169134-171137-169137-171141-174135-155

Above Average88-9388-9492-8895-10197-10094-102
Below Average102-107104-110108-113113-119111-117114-118
Very Poor124-157126-161130-163131-159131-154130-151

The Crunch Test (Measures abdominal strength and endurance)

What you’ll need:



What to do: Lie on your back with your knees bent.  Your feet should be flat on the floor and your heels are about 18 inches away from your butt. Place your arms at your sides with your palms facing down. Place a ruler next to your fingertips in this position and measure 6 inches further. Put a piece of tape to mark the spot.

Throughout the test, your hands must remain on the floor. Lift your head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor, using your abdominal muscles, and allowing fingers to slide to the 6-inch marker.  Return to the floor for one rep. Do as many as you can for 60 seconds but only counting the reps that your fingers actually reached the marker.

Men< 35 years35-44 years> 45 years
Needs Work15105

Women< 35 years35-44 years> 45 years
Needs Work1064

The Push-Up Test (Measures Muscular strength and endurance)

What you’ll need:



What to do: Dudes can assume a traditional push-up position and chicks can use the modified push-up position (where you’re on your knees). Push yourself up with arms fully extended and then lower yourself until your chest is about three inches from the floor. Do as many as you can in one minute.


Excellent> 54> 44> 39> 34> 29
Very Poor< 20< 15< 12< 8< 5

Very Poor< 6< 4< 3< 2< 1

My Results:

For the step-up test, I came in at disappointing “below average”. I guess my cardio fitness has plenty room for improvement. Fortunately for me, the others tests were a bit more heartening. I completed 35 reps which put me somewhere between “marginal” and “good” and considering I’m not a gal for crunches (Hey, there are way more fun and interesting ways to engage my abs than the standard crunch exercise), I think I did pretty well. And, last but not least, I completed 27 reps for the push-up test which puts me at “average”.

I’m not too thrilled about my overall results because I know I can be much stronger if I only push myself a little more. Now I know where to focus on in order to improve my overall fitness.

Let me know just how fit you are by leaving a comment.

Until next time, keep it tight.

About the Author : 
Dannielle Palmer-Gutzmer is a beauty and lifestyle blogger who shares her knowledge and experience in areas such as beauty, nutrition, fitness and health. She is a true believer in the holistic approach to beauty and well-being: rather than focusing on just the external aspects, looking and feeling your best incorporates how well one’s body is treated. With a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Dietetics and Nutrition, she has been able to overcome her own diet and fitness challenges through proper nutrition and exercise. Stemming from her desire to lead a full, beautiful and healthy life, Dannielle decided to launch her own blog, ElleG360° sharing her own ideas on not just diet and fitness but also makeup, skin care and most recently, her natural hair journey.