Simple Ways to See How Fit You Are
Are you IN or OUT of shape?
Growing old isn’t easy. As you age, your body loses muscle and becomes less flexible. Simple things that might not bother you in your 20s or 30s, can be devastating if they happen in your 50s and 60s.
Can you trust your body to move you through the day, without giving out or failing when you need it? Here are three simple exercises you can do to evaluate your condition. If you can do all three, great. However, if you fail any of them, it’s critical that you start taking steps to improve your situation.
Test One: Walk up a one-story flight of stairs. Are you out-of-breath or winded at the top? Walking up a flight of stairs is a basic requirement to get through a typical day. It’s also a good test to see what kind of cardio shape you’re in. If you’re struggling to do it without panting when you reach the top, you’ve got a problem.
Deal with it by making the stairs your mission. Once a day for a week, walk up and down a flight of stairs. Each week, add half a flight. Keep doing that until you can go up and down at least five times, without getting out of breath.
Test Two: Do a push-up. See if you can do at least 10 of them. I’m talking about traditional push-ups, no knees allowed. They work your chest, triceps, core and almost every other muscle in your upper body. Muscles you’ll need to pick yourself up if you fall or move things in your home.
Take the standard push-up position laying face down, toes flexed, with the palms of your hand on the ground slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. The heel of your hands should be in line with your lower chest.
Once you’re in position, start doing push-ups. Retract and depress the scapula (shoulder blades) and contract your core. Exhale pressing the body up until the arms are extended, stopping just short of locking the elbows. Hold that position and inhale. Then lower the body until the elbows form a 90-degree angle and the upper arms are parallel to the ground.
If you can’t complete 10 push-ups, write down how many you were able to accomplish. Then in two days, do it again. Keep practicing three days a week, until you grow strong enough to complete 10. It’s not going to happen right away. It could take several months before you’re successful, so don’t quit.
Test Three: Do some pull-ups. Women should be able to complete at least three and men at least five. That’s the minimum. If you’re not strong enough to do a pull-up, you may not be able to catch yourself when you trip or stumble. (People with shoulder issues should talk to a doctor or physical therapist before attempting a pull-up.)
The proper way to attempt a pull-up is like this. Grasp an overhand bar with your palms facing away and thumbs underneath. Suck the shoulders in tight to the body and pull each shoulder blade down toward its opposite back pocket. Inhale. Exhale while squeezing the bar as hard as you can, pulling the body straight up until your chin is over your hands. Hold. Inhale and slowly return to the starting position.
If you're not strong enough to lift your body weight, place your foot in a large rubber band that is strapped to the pull-up bar to help you out. Keep practicing twice a week until you're able to at least complete the minimum.
Be careful. If at any point while you’re doing these exercises you feel dizzy or light-headed, stop. Make sure you’re not in a position where you might fall. Stop and rest until your strength comes back.
Now it’s up to you. Take the tests and begin dealing with the results. Start now, because it’ll only get harder if you wait.
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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.