Tuesday, December 25th,

Do You Know Your Fitness Level?

Today we have a guest author and I know that you will enjoy his information.

In my practice I have never advocated to a patient that his goal in fitness should be to satisfy the people who have devised any given set of capabilities. This is not because I do not strongly advocate participation in any and all forms of physical recreation. All types of therapy, be they pill or scalpel, must be predicated on the needs of and advantages to the individual. This is also true of exercise.

My own practice ranges from athletes on the United States Olympic Team to patients who are bedridden with a variety of serious ailments. But many of my bedridden patients are in as good shape for them and their potentialities as are the Olympic athletes.

Physical fitness is judged on a sliding scale. One patient in particular has a flair for zestful, vigorous living. As an indirect result of his participation in World War I, he eventually required bilateral amputations of his legs above the thighs. But when he came to our summer cottage, this handicap as always was of secondary importance. Having divested himself of his artificial limbs, he would be carried by a couple of the younger men to the end of the dock and unceremoniously dumped. After the initial horrendous splash, he would bob to the surface, sputter a bit, and then make off for deep water.

Your own base line or yardstick is you at this moment. From now on you improve, you deteriorate, or you hold the line. This is where you start. And a medically sound beginning it is.

Consciously or unconsciously each sportsman has devised his own fitness testing. It may be formal (one more push-up, lopping two seconds off his hundred-yard swimming time, or returning to normal pulse less than three minutes after exercise) or informal (“it sure was easier to climb Mount Yahoo this year!”)—but it is there.

The most currently inept fitness enthusiast can outline his own testing program by using the following rules:

1. Measure areas relevant to your own recreational activity.

If you bicycle, time yourself once in a while over the same route. Do not think that a certain number of deep knee bends will greatly improve your ability to pitch a pup tent.

2. Always test yourself under the same conditions. Time of day, mood, weather, recent sleeping habits, and many other factors should be as similar as possible.

3. Measure for greater endurance. If you are now able to dog-paddle for 21 minutes, see if you can up this to 22 minutes. Or if you are weight-lifting 20 pounds ten times, see if you can press eleven times.

4. Measure for greater strength. If you are now completing six laps of the pool in 21 minutes, how about six and a half laps in the same time? If you are now pressing 20 pounds ten times, how about 25 pounds ten times?

5. Measure your own improvement. Fitness tests should not compare one sportsman with another or be used on a one-shot basis. Repeated evaluations are the key to good fitness tests. They should be used as a guide for the individual sportsman in his evaluation of self-improvement. In fact, most sportsmen know their general condition without ever resorting to formal testing.

6. If you are seeking general fitness, then devise over-all tests. Fitness should be total and not restricted to one area of the body. It makes little sense to work the legs hard without paying some attention to the arms. In testing yourself, test arms, trunk, and legs.

7. Make the goals simple enough to accomplish in a few weeks—or you will go stale and lose interest. A fifty-year-old executive who has been sedentary for twenty years may find a single push-up impossible. And it might take him six discouraging months to be able to do two. Obviously he should be doing “modified push-ups” rather than regular push-ups

If the above suggestions are incorporated into your own program of fitness evaluation, more technically scientific methods are unnecessary. However, properly understood, these tests do have value. Perhaps you may wish to adapt portions of them for yourself.

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