Starting any fitness program can be an exciting time in your life and the temptation to jump in without establishing clear goals is the number one mistake newbies make. Establishing how fit you are first, is the most effective way to start your journey. So, how fit are you?  I find this out in my first session. Without the answer, I can’t help clients reach their goals effectively. No trainer can. If you’re lucky enough to belong to a gym that will do one for you, schedule that appointment. If you’re like most, the following four guidelines will give you the tools you need to create goals, and track progress.

1. Cardiovascular Component.

Going up a flight of stairs can be a challenge for some. Your aerobic endurance is a very important component of overall health. A healthy heart lowers cardiovascular disease and keeps the weight off.  Aerobic movement requires the delivery of oxygen to the muscles. Oxygen is delivered to the muscles via your bloodstream. Each heartbeat you have is an indicator of the amount of blood traveling through your bloodstream. A high resting heart rate is an indicator of poor health. One way to measure your aerobic fitness is to take your heart rate, or pulse. Record your resting pulse rate, and then go for a one-mile brisk walk. Take your pulse again once you’ve immediately finished the mile, and record how long it took you to walk. As you gain aerobic fitness, your heart rate should lower. So should the time it takes you to walk the mile! The average resting heart rate for an adult is 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm). The lower your heart rate at rest, implies efficient cardiovascular health and better cardio fitness.

2. Muscular Component.

Muscle fitness relates to your strength, and the endurance of that strength. Your muscular fitness level can show how susceptible you are to injury. It also relates to your bone mass. A very simple way of testing your muscular fitness is with push-ups. You can time yourself, and see how many you do in that timeframe. Or, you can just complete as many push-ups as possible before fatigue sets in. The number of pushups you do should be your starting baseline and your goal should be to increase that number through effective weight training.

3. Flexibility Component.

Stiffness in the back, neck and behind the legs are common ailments with individuals living a sedentary lifestyle. Your body’s ability to move joints and muscles through a full range of motion is a predictor of great flexibility fitness. Flexibility also relates to your balance and coordination levels. A tight muscle can prevent normal movement. The most common way to measure your flexibility is via the sit and reach test. With this test, you’ll need a measuring tape. Place the measuring tape along the floor. With your feet at zero, and the tape stretching away from you, sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Try to touch your feet or stretch as far past your feet as possible. Have a friend check how far you went on the measuring tape. If you can’t reach your toes, you’ll have a negative number. If you stretch past your feet, you’ll have a positive number. The more flexible your legs, hips, and lower back are, the further you will be able to reach in this test.

4. Body Composition Component.

Your waist may be the biggest predictor of your health. Your body composition tends to relate to the amount of fat on your body, and where that fat is located. The location of fat at specific sites (in particular, the waist area) places you at higher risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. A simple way of measuring your body composition test is to measure your waist. Anything larger than 40 inches for men, and 35 inches for women increases your health risks.

So how fit are you? But more importantly, how fit do you intend to be? Set your goals, work your program, and watch as those numbers go down.

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