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Cindy Boggs Cindy Boggs

Cindy Boggs is an American Council on Exercise-certified fitness professional, corporate wellness presenter and author of the award winning book, CindySays… "You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World." Her web site is www.cindysays.com.

Women: Ever wonder how fit you are or if you're benefitting from your physical activity? There is a way to find out.

Fitness is measured three ways — aerobic, upper-body strength and flexibility. These simple tests rate your performance and identify where you are faring well and where you need to concentrate efforts for improvement. Remember to warm up (jog or walk briskly) for at least 10 minutes prior to performing any of the three tests.

Health benefits come even with moderate activity, so you don't to be an iron woman to feel and look better. Also, if you're not happy with your results, don't get down on yourself. Instead, consider how you can improve in all three areas.

The First Test

Aerobic — You can master this test if you will simply start devoting 30 minutes most days of the week to revving up your walk. If you are walking, add a 60-second jog every three minutes. 

Think about alternating faster to slower and this rating will come up.

The Second Test

Upper-body strength — You may not be ready to compete in bodybuilding, but you can gain strength by merely spending time doing it. Begin with body weight exercises three times a week on non-consecutive days. Shoot for eight to 12 push-ups, squats, lunges and planks and add sets as your body acclimates, and boom — you're strong. 

The Third Test

Flexibility — Because flexibility can vary joint to joint, there is no single test for overall flexibility. The sit-and-reach test described in the chart is the most common way it is measured but primarily assesses the range of motion of hamstrings, hips and lower back. To increase flexibility, spend time stretching but only after you are thoroughly warmed. 

People make the mistake of trying to stretch when the body is not ready, and this will not improve your flexibility and may, in fact, increase risk of injury.