Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Measure Your Cardio Fitness
This simple test offers an easy way to measure your cardio fitness—one of the most important indicators of your overall physical health.
By Diane Vadino for MSN Health & Fitness
This simple test offers an easy way to measure your cardio fitness—one of the most important indicators of your overall physical health. Cardio fitness is a prime bulwark against myriad medical problems, including but not limited to the No. 1 killer in the United States, heart disease; more than 70 million Americans suffer from some form of it.
This test really couldn't be easier: all you need is a 12-inch step (or stair) and a stopwatch. You’ll step up and down for three minutes. Alternate your feet and try to maintain a pace of 24 sets—that's one up, and one down, on each foot—per minute. When the time's up, sit down and take your pulse immediately: With your fingers lightly on the pulse-point on your neck, count the number of beats for 15 seconds, and then multiply by four for the number of heart beats per minute.
In this case, you're aiming low. A low number suggests that your body is better able to recover quickly from exertion—a key element of a healthy body—so the lower the figure, the greater your cardio fitness. Once you have the number of beats per minute, it's easy to gauge your situation.
Excellent: Anything less than 97 beats per minute
Good: 97-127 beats per minute
Fair: 128-142 beats per minute
Poor: 143-171 beats per minute
Very Poor: anything above 172 beats per minute
Don’t despair over an unsatisfactory result, however: Your level of cardio fitness can improve remarkably quickly, with as little as 20 minutes of cardio exercise four to five times a week.
Source: GMTV and the American College of Sports Medicine