How do I determine my fitness level?

JC Pinzon

Fitness has different components. You can start by checking your body fat percentage and compare it to standard guidelines. Your cardiorespiratory fitness level can be measured with a mile run test or the Rockport walking test. Your muscular strength and endurance can be assessed by doing pushups and sit-ups. There are tests for measuring your flexibility and range of motion in the joints as well. Consult a personal trainer or look it up in the internet. Fitness levels are categorized based on your performance during an assessment by a certified fitness professional. Most gyms offer one for free when you sign up.

Determining fitness level depends on how you define fitness and your goals. People typically define fitness by an ability to perform something well or with ease. If you can do a desired task with ease then you have reached your ideal level of fitness. For example if your goal is the ability to run 5 miles in 40 minutes you should measure your current fitness based on how close you are to that goal. Most experts consider that people have fitness when they have a good level of muscular strength and endurance, aerobic conditioning and range of motion. If you can do all your desired activities with ease then you have reached fitness.
Tina Whitlock

To get a better understanding of where you fitness level truly is you can seek out the help of a health and fitness professional and have your fitness level assessed.

If you’re looking for more of a general guideline then answer these questions:

  •  Can you walk a mile at a brisk pace and still carry on a conversation?

If yes, than you’re at an intermediate level of fitness.

If no, then you can consider yourself a beginner.

  • Can you jog that mile and still carry on a conversation?

If yes, then you’re at a more advanced level of fitness.

  • Can you run that mile, and hold a conversation after wards?

If yes, than you’re at a higher level of fitness.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
There are three exercise factors that reveal a lot about a person's risk of death and disability -- in other words, his or her RealAge (physiologic age). They all focus on the body's reaction to vigorous exercise. (These tests have resulted from studies done at the Cooper Clinic, The National Lipid Clinic Trial headquartered at Johns Hopkins, the Cleveland Clinic, my own clinic, and several other sites.)

The three factors are:
  • The ability to achieve 80 to 90 % of the age-adjusted maximum heart rate with exercise for three minutes (the number of times your heart beats per minute when pushed to the limit -- first subtract your calendar age from the number 220). When you are performing the maximal exercise you are capable of, does your heart rate reach 80 to 90 % of the maximum heart rate desirable for your age group?
  • The maximum exercise capacity in metabolic equivalent units (METs; one metabolic equivalent unit is your metabolic rate at rest, sitting quietly or lying down. When doing a vigorous workout, your goal should be to increase your metabolic rate to 10 or 11 METs
  • Heart rate recovery two minutes after maximal exercise. Two minutes after stopping strenuous activity that pushed your heart rate to its maximum, how much of a return to the normal rate at rest occurred in your heart rate?
Each of these tests can predict your risk of dying and disability in the next ten years from all causes (not just heart disease or arterial aging).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.