Whatever we’re doing, its human nature that we all want to see progress and ensure that our valuable time and money is being spent doing the right things. The good news is that health and fitness is one of those things, where it’s relatively easy to monitor progress. At the same time thought this can also have the opposite effect if improvements aren’t forthcoming – trust me we’ve all been there and reached a bit of a plateau at times.
As a qualified Personal Trainer, the first assessment with the client covers a range of health and fitness tests including:
- Blood pressure – this is an indicator of good health. Ideally we should all have a blood pressure below 120 over 80 (120/80). This is the ideal reading for good health and a much lower risk of heart disease or a stroke.Blood pressure is given as two numbers; the top number is the systolic. That’s the pressure inside your arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number, or the diastolic is the pressure insider your arteries between beats.Both of these readings are important, first of all to make sure you are fit enough to exercise in the first place (i.e. a doctor may need to be consulted with first), but secondly highlights any blockages in the arteries which may create a high blood pressure reading.
- Heart rate – the resting heart rate can be a good indicator as to how fit you are. Normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. A lower heart rate at rest implies a more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate of 40 beats per minute.
- BMI – the Body Mass Index is a bit of a confusing one and at times can be taken with a pinch of salt. This chart compares your height to your weight and determines if you are considered underweight, overweight, obese etc. We are all different, so I don’t consider this a good indicator and would much rather work with waist to hip measurements (see below).
- Waist to Hip Measurement – this measurement compares the hip to the waist and then via a calculation it’s possible to work out if you are at more likely to develop certain health conditions. The test is based on the theory that people who carry more weight around their waist may be at risk. In my opinion, this is a much more realistic test as compared to BMI.
- Body Fat – you can buy a set of impedance scales easily enough and fairly accurately (the readings can be out by 10%) the amount of body fat you have. The scales work by sending a very low electrical current through the lower half of your body (don’t worry you won’t feel a thing). Since the electrical current flows more quickly through water and muscle than bone or fat, the scales measure the speed of the current. Using a mathematical formula, the scales are able to estimates your body fat.
The above tests are only a handful of the ones that are available and many of these can be easily done at home. However, it’s important to know how to interpret the results correctly. That’s why I spend plenty of time with my clients explaining what the readings mean and would certainly recommend speaking with a doctor with any concerns.
Take care, keep healthy and keep fit.