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.

Resting pulse

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

Stair climbing

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.