Muscular strength and endurance: Situp test

The situp test measures the strength and endurance of your abdominal muscles. Here's how to do the test:

  • Lie on the floor with knees bent at a 90-degree angle and feet flat on the floor. A partner holds your feet firmly to the floor. Another option is to place your feet on the wall so your knees and hips are bent at a 90-degree angle. Cross your arms across your chest. This is the down position.
  • To move into the up position, raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Don't lift your buttocks off the floor.
  • Return to the down position.
  • Each time you move to the up position is counted as one situp.
  • Do as many situps as you can in one minute.

The following counts can generally be considered indicators of a good fitness level based on age and sex. If your situp count is below the target number, the target can serve as a goal to work toward. Counts above the targets can indicate better fitness.

Good fitness results for situp test
Age Women: Number of situps Men: Number of situps
25 39 44
35 30 40
45 25 35
55 21 30
65 12 24

Flexibility: Sit-and-reach test

The sit-and-reach test is a simple way to measure the flexibility of the back of your legs, hips and lower back. Here's how:

  • Place a yardstick on the floor. Secure it by placing a piece of tape across the yardstick at the 15-inch (38-centimeter) mark.
  • Place the soles of your feet even with the 15-inch (38-centimeter) mark on the yardstick.
  • Slowly reach forward as far as you can, exhaling as you reach and holding the position for at least 1 second.
  • Note the distance you reached.
  • Repeat the test two more times.
  • Record the best of the three reaches.

The following measurements can generally be considered indicators of good flexibility based on age and sex. If your outcome is below the target number, the target can indicate a goal to work toward. Measurements above the targets can indicate better flexibility.

Good results for sit-and-reach test
Age Women: Furthest reach Men: Furthest reach
25 21.5 in. (55 cm) 19.5 in. (50 cm)
35 20.5 in. (52 cm) 18.5 in. (47 cm)
45 20 in. (51 cm) 17.5 in. (44 cm)
55 19 in. (48 cm) 16.5 in. (42 cm)
65 17.5 in. (44 cm) 15.5 in. (39 cm)

Body composition: Waist circumference

If the circumference of your waist is greater than your hips — you carry more weight above the hips — you have an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The risk is even greater for women if waist circumference is 35 inches (89 centimeters) or more and for men if waist circumference is 40 inches (102 centimeters) or more.

With a cloth measuring tape, measure your waist circumference just above the hipbones.

Body composition: Body mass index

Your body mass index (BMI) is a calculation that indicates whether you have a healthy amount of body fat. You can determine your BMI with a BMI table or online calculator.

If you'd rather do the math yourself, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiply by 703. Or divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. (To determine your height in meters, divide your height in centimeters by 100).

The following BMI results demonstrate whether you are at a healthy weight.

Interpretation of BMI results
BMI Weight status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5-24.9 Normal weight
25.0-29.9 Overweight
30 and above Obesity

Stay active

The results of your fitness assessment can help you set goals for staying active and improving fitness outcomes. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends one of the following activity levels for adult fitness and health benefits:

  • 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity weekly plus muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week
  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly plus muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week
  • An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity plus muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week

Moderate aerobic activity includes:

  • Walking fast
  • Water aerobics
  • Bicycling on mostly level ground
  • Pushing a lawn mower

Vigorous aerobic activity includes:

  • Running
  • Swimming laps
  • Fast bicycling or biking hills
  • Playing basketball or soccer
  • Playing singles tennis

Muscle-strengthening exercises include:

  • Lifting weights or using resistance bands
  • Calisthenics that use body weight for resistance
  • Heavy gardening or yardwork

Monitor your progress

Keep track of your progress in improving your fitness. Take the same measurements about six weeks after you begin an exercise program and periodically afterward.

Each time you repeat your assessment, celebrate your progress and adjust your fitness goals accordingly. Share your results with your doctor or personal trainer for additional guidance.

March 14, 2017 See more In-depth