Do you feel breathless after taking two flights of stairs? Does raking the leaves in your front yard leads to unbearable pain in your waist? Is carrying the bags of groceries from the local store getting difficult without a vehicle? If your answer is yes to most of these questions, then it is high time for you to focus on your physical fitness.
Broadly speaking, physical fitness refers to your body’s level of efficiency. After a full day’s work, your body should have residual energy to play a sport or take a long walk. A physically fit person will be able to respond well to both his daily responsibilities at work and home and during emergencies.
If you are on your fitness journey, use these top 7 fitness metrics to determine your progress.1. Cardiovascular Endurance
Cardiovascular endurance measures the body’s competence in delivering oxygen to the different parts, especially the muscles in use. Oxygen is essential for the functioning of several organs including the lungs and heart. In general, sports like marathons require optimal cardiovascular endurance.
VO2 Max is the most valid and popular way of measuring Cardiovascular endurance. For taking the measurement, first, you will need to exercise till the point of exhaustion. While you are exercising, a piece of high-tech equipment will be used to measure your oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide production, and air volume. The readings generated will inform you about your level of fitness in this particular area.
In case you are not satisfied with the results, you can train your body to improve your score. Take up activities like jogging, cycling, walking or swimming, that will cause your heart to pump more blood and deliver more oxygen throughout the body.2. Stamina (Muscular Endurance)
Our body needs to break down the stored energy like Fat and Glycogen. They are the fuels that drive the different activities that we perform in a day. Stamina measures how efficiently our body performs this task. It focuses more on the muscles than the heart and lungs.
Measuring muscular endurance requires you to perform acts similar to the ones in a gym. It evaluates the number of push-ups and sit-ups a person can do in a minute or two. It also checks the number of minutes for which a person can hold a wall squat. For a male candidate, 35 full push-ups, and for a female, 13 full push-ups are considered as a benchmark for excellent muscular endurance. In the case of a wall squat, if a male holds the position for 103 seconds and a female for 60 seconds, then their muscular endurance is definitely on point.
Muscle Endurance is more movement-specific than muscle-specific. So, we suggest you train with specific movements in mind.3. Strength
The maximum force that a muscle can exert in a single rep is called strength.
An excellent way to measure strength is to check the ratio of body weight to strength. For example, a person weighing 100 kgs can lift 200kgs while another person weighing 120 kgs can lift the same 200kgs in one rep. In this scenario, the person weighing 100kgs has more strength than the other person.
If you are a beginner, you should focus on your other components before opting for strength training. Always practice strength training under the guidance of a professional. There are also many books available in the market that might help you gain more perspective on this particular component of fitness.4. Power
The maximum speed with which the muscles can exert their force is called power. Power is the determinant of the kind of motion a human possesses while playing a particular sport or activity. It is an essential component in sports like sprints, weightlifting, and Thai boxing. A normal human being produces around 80 watts of power.
Power can be measured through a number of dynamic and explosive activities. These include daily activities, like sprinting up a flight of stairs, a standing squat jump, or a push press.
Similar to strength, training to improve power can’t be done without the supervision of a professional. It is also a little sport-specific. But if you do want to start, try basic exercises like climbing the stairs at an optimum pace and slowly increasing it over a few weeks.5. Agility
The quick movements of a person concerning factors like time and space is called agility. It is an important factor that is considered while determining the decision-making speed and the brisk personality of a person.
Numerous sports, like cricket, basketball, and football, require a good level of agility. Therefore, the tests conducted to measure this component varies from one sport to another. For the elderly, there is a separate test called the ‘8 foot up and go’. For the general public, the ‘Illinois Agility Run’ test is conducted.
To train for agility, one important thing to keep in mind is to make sure that you train in all three planes of motion. Shuttle runs, lateral running drills and ladder drills are some fun ways to become more agile. Specific equipment designed for agility training is also available in different online stores and sports shops.6. Speed
Speed is a component that checks multiple other parameters of fitness like muscle endurance, strength, and power. It isn’t just about how fast a person can move a body part, but also the acceleration with which he is moving. Speed has multiple components apart from the general physical speed that we know about. It includes anticipation speed, recognition speed, and reaction speed.
There are multiple ways to test speed. For example, a stopwatch can be used to test the speed of a swimmer or a sprinter. However, we advise you to pick a particular sport and then test your speed in it.
To train your muscles for gaining more speed, start doing HIIT workouts, sprint drills, etc. If you have previously learned martial arts, pick it up again. Martial arts have many benefits including gaining speed and agility.
Flexibility measures the degree of motion variation in the body, especially at the joints. It is an important factor that helps to determine the level of coordination among the body functions. Similar to agility, good flexibility ensures that a person is training in all the 3 planes of motion. Human ageing leads to stiffening of the body. Therefore, being flexible can prevent the risks of joint-related pains in the future.
Though flexibility cannot be measured, different stretches can be tried to test the mobility of the joints. One of the simplest ways to check how flexible you are, you can sit and try to reach your toes.
To increase your overall flexibility, consistent training and stretching is beneficial. You can also try yoga, as it not only includes a lot of stretches but also help to increase core strength and muscle endurance. If you are in the process of building a workout routine, make sure to warm up. Warming up also prevents the soreness of muscles and helps prevent injuries.
The seven metrics of physical fitness discussed in the article, are interdependent. Even though we have suggested separate exercises for improving each of these components, a regular workout routine that works on all your muscles and increases your heart rate is the best way to keep your overall fitness in check.