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What kind of shape are you in?

January 7, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Long before the big silver ball dropped, many Americans vowed that it was time to get in shape for the new year.But it's tough jumping into fitness if it's been awhile. Are you really in shape?

The truth is it's good to know where you are on the fitness map so you know where you're going and how long it's going to take you to get there. Here's a test to give you some guidelines.

Start with your heart. See if you can do jumping jacks for 90 seconds, which is considered excellent. A minute up to a minute and a half is pretty good, less than a minute, your heart needs work.

If jumping isn't an option, try climbing four flights of stairs. See at what level you begin to feel breathless. Aim for climbing all four without panting.

When it comes to strength, see how many full push-ups you can crank out. Twenty or more pushups is fabulous. Ten to 19 is a nice effort. If the number is under nine, keep on pumping.

Test abdominal strength by performing crunches. Find out how many crunches you can do in sixty seconds. Twenty-five in a minute is good and 15 to 25 considered decent. Keep trying if you can only do up to 14.

Holding a plank is another way to measure strength. If you can maintain this position for at least 45 seconds, you're on top of your game. Fifteen to 45 seconds is a pretty good show, but less than 15 means you have some work to do.

As we age the importance of flexibility actually supersedes strength and cardiovascular training. So take these tests to see how limber you are.

With arms at shoulder level see how close your hands can get to the wall to measure flexibility between your neck and shoulders. Sit on the floor to measure if hamstrings are tight, attempt to take fingers past toes.

Finally, to measure your quadricep stretch ability, pull your heel as close to the same side glute as you can.

To improve fitness, increase cardio sessions by just 5 to 10 percent each week. For strength, perform the exercises two to three times weekly, and for flexibility hold the stretches without bouncing for at least 30 seconds.


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