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Your Health

How To Assess Your Fitness Level

Knowing your current fitness level can help you to set fitness goals and also to choose activities that will challenge you without over-exertion or straining. Below are five measures to assess your aerobic and muscular fitness, flexibility, and body composition.

  1. Take your pulse immediately before and after a 1-mile walk at a steady, brisk pace. To take your pulse, place the first two fingers of your right hand under your jawbone and slide them towards the center of your throat until you feel a strong pulse. Count the number of beats in 15 seconds and multiply that by 4. That is your pulse per minute. A normal resting heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute.

    To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220:

    220 - my age = _____________ (maximum heart rate)

    Multiply your maximum heart rate by .85 to determine your upper level of aerobic intensity, and by .70 to determine your lower level of aerobic intensity. The range between these two numbers is your target heart rate zone.

    My max. heart rate x .85 = ____________ (upper limit)

    My max. heart rate x .70 = ____________ (lower limit)

    Calculate your heart rate at the end of your walk to see if you are reaching your target heart rate zone. If your heart rate at the end of the walk is greater than the upper limit of your maximum, your fitness level is probably quite low.
  2. When you walk the mile in Step 1, time how long it takes you. The average, reasonably fit adult can walk three miles an hour? 20 minutes per mile. If it takes you a lot longer than that, your fitness level is probably quite low.
  3. How many pushups can you do without pausing? This is a measure more of upper body strength than overall fitness, but if you find yourself puffing and panting after 2 or 3, your overall fitness is also probably quite low.
  4. Ask a doctor or other professional to measure your body mass index (BMI) or use the ?calculator? on the National Institutes of Health website:

    Your BMI is a measure of the percentage of fat in your body relative to lean muscle mass and is a good indicator of overall fitness. A BMI between 20 and 25 indicates that you are healthy with appropriate fat and muscle mass. A BMI over 25 is a sign of overweight and poor fitness.

Ten Ways To Get Moving

  1. Make a fitness date with a friend.
  2. Do something fun that’s also physical, such as dancing.
  3. Walk or cycle to and from work.
  4. If your job is sedentary, get up and walk around - even if it’s just along the hall and down the stairs and back again - once an hour.
  5. Pace while talking on the phone. If it’s a cell phone, go for a walk down the street.

  6. When watching TV, walk around the house, or do a little housework or something else useful, during the commercial breaks.
  7. Run your errands—on foot. Rather than driving to each stop on your list, park once and walk. Carry a tote bag for incidentals. If you live close enough to the town center, leave the car at home. When you get back, wash and wax it.
  8. If you’re stuck waiting for a flight or appointment, do a lap or two around the airport or the block.
  9. Take up gardening.
  10. Do housework—vacuum, sweep, wash the floors; clean out all the cupboards, including the very back of the highest and hardest to reach ones; scrub the windowsills; strip the beds and flip all the mattresses.

Twenty steps burns 1 calorie!

Potential Positive Effects Of Moderate Weight Loss

  • Normalization of blood pressure / reduced risk of hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Lower cholesterol and reduced risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes
  • Improvement in arthritis symptoms
  • Improved self-confidence

Am I At Risk Of Adverse Health Conditions?

If you are obese, overweight, or have a high waist size and two or more risk factors, even modest weight loss (e.g., 10 pounds) has health benefits. Almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight.

Excess body fat leads to a higher risk for premature death, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, problems with cholesterol and triglycerides, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, lung problems, gout, arthritis, and certain kinds of cancers.

Lifestyle Modification

One way to give yourself a leg up on your journey to your weight loss goal is to change aspects of your lifestyle that don’t support healthy behaviors - aspects that keep you trapped in unhealthy habits. It’s important to remember that not only are small changes easier to implement and stick to, but over time their cumulative effects really add up. Here are a few suggestions for positive lifestyle changes.

At Home

Reduce time spent watching television and in other sedentary behaviors; build physical activity into regular routines; put unhealthy food choices out of sight.

At Work

Go for a walk instead of taking a coffee break; take the stairs instead of the elevator; walk to a colleague’s office instead of calling or emailing them.


Don’t eat in the car ever; change regular routes that take you past hard-to-resist places such as bakeries and fast food restaurants.

Grocery Store

Become an inveterate label reader - don’t buy products high in fat and sugar; shop around the outside of the store first - this is where fresh produce and pure proteins (meats, fish) are typically situated; don’t shop when you are hungry; come armed with a list and don’t deviate from it.


Stop drinking soda or switch to sugar-free drinks; switch from white flour to whole-wheat or other high-fiber flour; when snacking, put a small amount on a plate and eat only that instead of dipping into the bag until it’s all gone; eat fruit (fresh or dried) instead of sweets.

*Disclaimer: Results are typical but not guaranteed. Your actual results may vary. Real CalMWM patients shown with permission.

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