A blog by runners. For runners.

The adult fitness test: how do you measure up?

fitness test for adultsI think many of us were subjected to the Presidential Fitness Tests starting from grade school on up. We’d do the sit-and-reach test, the pull-up count, the shuttle run, and even the dreaded mile. OK. If you can’t tell already, I wasn’t particularly athletic in school. Instead, I spent my hours in the band practice room tooting on my saxophone. Having my body pushed to its limits was pure torture.

Fast-forward a little bit, and I can run circles around that self-conscious girl who couldn’t finish a mile without stopping and gasping for air. And you know what? In 2008, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition added an adult test to its fleet for individuals who are 20 years of age or older. If your gym teacher subjected you to these challenges as a youth, you might get a boost of confidence with your abilities .

Here’s what’s entailed:

Aerobic fitness
Participants can choose a 1-mile walk or 1.5 mile run to test their aerobic fitness. For the walk, move at a brisk pace around a track or treadmill for exactly 1 mile, then stop and record your time. As well, immediately measure your pulse rate for 10 seconds and multiply by 6. For the run, begin running at your all-out pace for 6 laps around a standard track or 1.5 miles on a treadmill/otherwise. Time yourself to get your result.

Muscular strength and endurance
The two movements used to measure the muscular strength and endurance are the half sit-up and push-up. The half sit-ups are performed a little differently than you might be used to, so follow the instructions on this page and track how many you can complete in a full minute. You can complete standard or modified pushups, but you’ll want to do as many of either kind until exhaustion and then record your result.

Range of motion is just as important as strength and cardiovascular fitness when it comes to staying injury free. The sit-and-reach test is just one way to help evaluate hamstring flexibility and can quickly be performed using a simple yardstick. Sit on the floor with the yardstick between your legs, then stretch forward keeping a neutral spine until you cannot stretch any more. Try three times and record the best result.

Body composition
I’m not sure how I feel about BMI being a point on this test because it’s not always the best indicator for health. Regardless, it is a measure on this test and the council acknowledges its shortcomings in brief. You simply need to record your height and weight to figure BMI using this chart. There’s also a waist circumference alternative if you’d rather try that.

Results and more info
When you’re all done, you can enter your results into this form to get your results. With everything I entered for myself, I am proud to report I’m in the 93rd percentile. Take that, band geek Ashley! For more information about the test, as well as the full instructions, visit adultfitnesstest.org.

Written by Ashley Marcin.

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