Are you fit (enough) for your age?

How does your fitness rank against that of others your age – and are you doing enough exercise to boost your odds of living a long and healthy life?

Are you fit (enough) for your age?

How does your fitness rank against that of others your age – and are you doing enough exercise to boost your odds of living a long and healthy life? Matthew Lunn, group wellbeing manager for Aspria, reports.

Logically – and especially genetically – we can’t expect that our body is at the same as it was 20 years ago! However, the way we’ve looked after ourselves up to that point – our exercise habits, eating habits, alcohol consumption, stress levels, amount of sleep and so on has a huge impact on our long-term mental and physical health. Therefore the recommendation remains that you should aim to be active every day.

Most of us will have some idea of how fit we are. But knowing the specifics can help us set realistic fitness goals, monitor our progress and maintain our motivation. Once we know our starting point, we can plan where we want to go. Below are some simple assessments we can all do to understand how fit we are.

Make the test!

3 tricks to measure your physical health

Aerobic fitness can be tested during/after activity or at rest.

At rest:

you simply check your pulse either on your wrist or neck: for most adults, a healthy resting heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM).

Whilst active:

A. Check your heart rate (pulse) periodically during a cardio workout, or just after a brisk walk. You should be aiming for 50–75 per cent of the maximum heart rate for your age, which translates to

  • 93–138 BPM for those aged 35+
  • 88-131 BPM aged 45+
  • 83–123 BPM aged 55+
  • 78–116 aged 65+

B. Go on a 1.5-mile run and see how long it takes you. A woman aged 45–54 should be aiming for 14 minutes and a man of the same age 12 minutes.

How to evaluate your strength and flexibility?

Strength can be measured using sit-up and press-up tests, for example, while the ‘sit and reach’ test measures the flexibility of the back of your legs, hips and lower back.

As an example, if you’re a woman aged 45-54 and can do 14 press-ups without stopping for a rest, or 25 sit-ups, this would be a good result. Men of the same age should be aiming for 16 press-ups or 35 sit-ups.

3 exercises you should be to do without difficulty:

In your 20s:

  • Run 5km in 30 minutes
  • Perform 20 burpees in a row
  • Hold a full plank for one minute each side

In your 30s:

  • Run a mile in less than 9 minutes
  • Hold a plank for 45 seconds
  • Deadlift more than 50 per cent of your bodyweight

In your 40s:

  • Sprint for 60 seconds without stopping
  • Perform 10 press-ups without stopping
  • Touch your toes comfortably while keeping your legs straight

In your 50s:

  • Run at a moderate pace for 60 seconds without stopping
  • Perform five burpees without stopping
  • Lower yourself into a cross-legged sitting position on the floor (without using your hands) and then return to standing

In your 60s:

  • Regularly take more than 10,000 steps in a day
  • Perform 12 bodyweight squats without stopping
  • Touch your fingertips with one hand over your shoulder and the other behind your back

In your 70s:

  • Walk a mile in less than 16 minutes
  • Comfortably climb a flight of stairs with 10 steps in under 30 seconds
  • Rise to stand from a chair without using hands or arms and repeat 12+ times in 30 seconds

But we’re all individuals

However, it’s important to recognise that everyone is different, and you certainly shouldn’t force yourself into these exercises if you aren’t ready for them.

Having a tailored programme, with regular reviews based around your current fitness levels, will help ensure you progress safely towards improved health. Please ask a personal trainer or wellbeing advisor for further information next time you’re in the club.

read next: "Eating for energy" »

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