We all know that exercise is good for us. We’d all like to be fit. In today’s world of personal trainers, smart watches, clever fitness apps, and more, it can seem a bit complicated. Sometimes “simple is best” and so here are two very simple ways to assess your fitness.
The fitter you are, the slower your heart will beat, at rest. This is because a fit heart pumps blood more efficiently and so it can “afford” to beat more slowly. To measure your resting heart rate you just measure your heart rate (or pulse) while you are at rest! A few minutes after waking up is a good time (or while quietly reading a book, watching a movie, etc.) and please be sure to avoid caffeine for several hours before checking your resting heart rate. You can “google” how to check your pulse but most people can feel their pulse at the wrist and then you just count the pulse over 60 seconds/one minute to get your heart rate (beats per minute). Here are some rough guides to heart rate for an average 30-50 year old adult taking no medication and with no medical conditions that may affect heart rate:
60 or less – this indicates a fit person who probably trains regularly
60-70 – this is an active person who could still benefit a bit more
70-80 – this is the average but because the average person is quite sedentary and unfit, it is not really a target to aim for
80 or more – this may indicate quite poor fitness and overall heart-health and may be a reason to see your doctor
Recent research has shown that the time taken to climb four flights of stairs (60 stairs) is quite a good indicator of heart-health, and compares quite well to findings from effort-ECG tests (for a long time, effort-ECGs have been the main method of assessing heart health).
45 seconds or less is good and suggests good heart health
45-90 seconds is the mid-range. This usually indicates poor fitness and it may also indicate early heart problems
90 seconds or more is poor and may indicate problems needing medical attention
Here are two very simple ways to assess your current fitness and to give you a sense of how healthy your heart and cardiovascular system is, or is not. These are only very-basic simple tests so please do not rely on them too much – if in doubt always see your doctor, please.
Colin was a medical practitioner (GP) from 1988 to 2000. Since then he has worked in the wellness field, designing, developing and delivering various products and services. Out of clinical practice for many years now he no longer practices medicine formally but retains a keen interest in helping people become more-well versions of themselves. He acts as a wellness coach and not as a medical practitioner today.
Colin's approach and philosophy is based on empowerment: the notion that people only need a little help to make choices they usually already want to anyway - it's about respect and support rather than instruction or correction.
Colin lives at the Vaal Dam with his wife Cathy. He spends time walking mountains, cycling, motorbike riding, kayaking, sailing and always looking for better & better balance.