How do you measure your fitness level?
with advice from
Jennifer Gamboa, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC,
Angela Manzanares, M.B.A., ATC,
and Joy Winchester, HFS
Am I fit enough? Whether it’s a daily question, one we ponder before visiting with the doctor, or one we guiltily think before grabbing another cookie, this is a question many of us ask ourselves. Unfortunately, there’s not a simple answer, but Physiquality’s physical therapy professionals have some useful insights.
“How people measure their health and fitness depends on the person,” says Angela Manzanares, the creator of the fitbook™, a Physiquality partner. She warns against using numbers like BMI, or the body mass index, on their own, as they only take into account a person’s height and weight, not body composition. It’s possible to have low body fat and high muscle mass, and therefore a higher weight, Angela explains, which could categorize someone as overweight or obese when it’s really not the case.
It’s better to look at a variety of tests and think about both health and fitness, rather than simply your BMI or the number on your scale. Joy Winchester, HFS, from the Take Charge Fitness Program, a wellness facility run by Clinton Physical Therapy Center (a Physiquality network member in Clinton, Tennessee), recommends using a site like www.sparkpeople.com to test your fitness. The website has a variety of challenges that can be done at home to test your endurance, including one-minute push-up and crunch tests, a three-minute step test and a one-mile walk test. Each of the tests is simple to execute and requires little more than a stopwatch for timing, and maybe a friend to help keep count (or to keep you honest!). The site charts results by age and gender, ranging from “very poor” to “excellent,” giving you an idea of how your endurance ranks against others your own age.
If you’re serious about improving your fitness, or if your doctor has encouraged you to do so, you may want to consider consulting with a physical therapist for a health and fitness evaluation. Jennifer Gamboa, a physical therapist, created FitTEST Solutions™, a Physiquality partner program that PTs use to evaluate the health and fitness of their patients and clients. The assessment measures such areas as risk for disease, range of motion, balance and flexibility, strength, and medical history. Jennifer points out that each person’s results can vary not just by age and gender, but also because of their medications, which are also tracked by the software. By the end of the assessment, the physical therapist can use the software’s results to create an exercise program tailored to that person’s specific health and fitness needs and goals.
Another tip, supported by research studies, is to keep track of your eating and exercise to help you stay on track. Angela notes that fitbook™ now has a free app that helps people achieve their health and fitness goals. “The app walks the user through a series of questions to get to the ‘why’ behind their goal,” she explains. “Then the program allows users to choose how they want to measure their progress, relating the progress back to that person’s goals, whether they are weight loss, body fat reduction, or performance enhancement.”
Angela recommends that if you’re trying to lose weight, set a goal range, not a number; it’s been shown that people feel more capable and are more successful in reaching a range rather than a single number. And try not to obsess about your scale! While it’s good to know how much you weigh, it’s only one part of your health and fitness equation. Angela recommends weighing yourself weekly, at the same time of the day, to know if you’re trending down (or up!), rather than obsessing about that dream weight.
Physiquality is here to help you set fitness goals and track your progress! Enter your zip code in the box above to see if the following products are available in your area:
Plan for success, track your progress, and reach your goals with this personalized, flexible and functional fitness journal.
- FitTEST Solutions™
Meet your fitness goals by understanding of where you are today — and where you can go tomorrow — with a comprehensive fitness assessment and customized exercise plan.
- Polar monitors
Reach your peak performance with Polar monitors, whether you’re trying to stick to a basic exercise program or taking your endurance training to the next level.
|Jennifer Gamboa, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC, is the creator of FitTEST Solutions™, a Physiquality partner program, and the founder and president of Body Dynamics, Inc., a multi-disciplinary physical therapy and wellness center in Arlington, Virginia. Jennifer has been practicing PT for 15 years and is a board-certified specialist in both orthopaedics and manual therapy. She has lectured extensively on alternative practice models, fitness, wellness, and health promotion.
Angela Manzanares, M.B.A., ATC, is the founder of fitlosophy and the creator of the fitbook™, a Physiquality partner program, and a revolutionary line of fitness + nutrition journals and products that are redefining how people reach their fitness goals. Angela has a passion for positively influencing the lives of others, and she has combined her M.B.A. in business with her skills as a NASM Certified Personal Trainer to create programs that inspire and motivate others to reach their goals.
Joy Winchester, HFS, works at the Take Charge Fitness Program, a wellness facility run by Clinton Physical Therapy Center, a Physiquality network member in Clinton, Tennessee. A certified health fitness specialist, Joy earned her degree in exercise science from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 2010.
For further information, look through our selection of articles on health and fitness, in addition to the below links:
Ellin, Abby. Me versus the scale. New York Times, January 27, 2014.
Scott, Maura L. and Stephen M. Nowlis. Goal reengagement. Journal of Consumer Research, October 2013.
MacVean, Mary. Faithful food diary key to weight loss. Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2012.
Calculate your body mass index. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.