How fit are you? See how you measure up

Ready to start a fitness program? Measure your fitness level with a simple four-part test. Then use the results to set fitness goals and track your progress.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You probably have some idea of how fit you are. But knowing the specifics can help you set realistic fitness goals, monitor your progress and maintain your motivation. Once you know where you're starting from, you can plan where you want to go. And it's easier than you might think.

Get started with the simple four-step assessment below based on guidelines provided by the President's Challenge, a program designed by the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Gather your tools

Generally, fitness is assessed in four key areas, including aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition. To do your assessment, you'll need:

  • A watch that can measure seconds or a stopwatch
  • A cloth measuring tape
  • A yardstick
  • Heavy-duty tape
  • A scale
  • Someone to help you record your scores

You'll also need a pencil or pen and paper to record your scores as you complete each part of the assessment. You can record your scores in a notebook or journal, or save them in a spreadsheet or another electronic format.

Record your fitness levels (PDF file requiring Adobe Reader)

Check your aerobic fitness: Brisk walk

To assess your aerobic fitness, take a brisk one-mile (1.6-kilometer) walk. You can do the walk anywhere, such as on a trail or track, inside a shopping mall, or on a treadmill. Before and after the walk, check and record your pulse in your notebook or journal.

To check your pulse over your carotid artery, place your index and middle fingers on your neck to the side of your windpipe. To check your pulse at your wrist, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery, located on the thumb side of your wrist.

When you feel your pulse, look at your watch and count the number of beats in 10 seconds. Multiply this number by 6 to get your heart rate per minute.

Let's say you count 15 beats in 10 seconds. Multiply 15 by 6 for a total of 90 beats a minute.

After you've recorded your pulse, note the time on your watch and walk one mile (1.6 kilometers). After you complete the walk, check your watch and record the time it took you to finish, in minutes and seconds, in your notebook or journal. Then check and record your pulse once more.

Measure muscular strength and endurance: Pushups

Pushups can help you measure muscular strength. If you're just starting a fitness program, do modified pushups on your knees. If you're already fit, do classic pushups. For both types:

  • Lie face down on the floor with your elbows bent and your palms next to your shoulders.
  • Keeping your back straight, push up with your arms until your arms are extended.
  • Lower your body until your chest is about 2 inches from touching the floor.
  • Push your body upward, returning to the starting position.

Count each time you return to the starting position as one pushup. Do as many pushups as you can until you need to stop for rest. Record the number of pushups you complete in your notebook or journal.

Feb. 27, 2014 See more In-depth