Long story short, there are only 3 real reasons why you exercise ( yes, you can add to the list):
- To live longer and minimize health risks
- To look better to yourself
- To feel better in your skin
Your progress towards all three will be fairly evident but how do you know if you’re really minimizing health risks with all that jumping, sweating and stretching? Instead of launching an avalanche of advice I thought it would be more helpful if we thought about exercise as a preventative tool. We all agree that exercise can lower blood pressure, help your heart and keep your brain lively, right? Well, here are 3 specific fitness markers that you can work on that prove your ticker and brain will stand the test of time.
The One Mile Walking Test
Purpose: To determine heart health over the long term.
Do it because the average pace for a 30-39 year old woman to walk a mile is in the 14:37-15:36 minute range and that a 40-49 year old woman should be able to do the same in the 15:07-16:06 range. 30-39 year old men should be able to walk a mile in 13:31-14:12 minutes while 40-49 year old men should complete theirs in the 14:01-14:42 range. Don’t worry: SparkPeople has a whole chart of all age ranges and acceptable paces.
Practice: Set your watch to see how long it takes you to walk a mile and then improve from there. Take weekly walks with friends and family and set a game of friendly competition.
The 1 Minute Pushup Test
Purpose: To test your upper body endurance and muscle strength.
Do it because being strong enough to push your own body weight can come in handy in daily living. The ACSM chart below shows the numbers you should aim for.
Practice: This could be another fun activity to do with your loved ones. Who can do more pushups? set a goal and work towards completing more push ups every 2 weeks.
Purpose: To preserve the range of motion around your joints and help make daily movements easier.
Do it because nothing makes you feel older than creaky, old bones and ligaments. You don’t have to be a Yogi (unless you want to) but you can prevent many injuries and lessen those feelings of physical age with flexibility training. The authors at HumanKinectics have written a great post highlighting the factors of flexibility to focus on.
Practice: Light stretching in the morning and stretching after exercise. Caution, stretching should not hurt so be careful and start slowly.