Above average

On my fiftieth birthday, I started working out regularly at the local Y. Other than for a while last fall (after twice getting nauseous while working out), I’ve kept it up pretty well, working out three times a week (except when I have schedule conflicts, which is probably about twice a month).

For over a year, I’ve been wanting to get a personal fitness assessment done, to have some idea how well I was doing and to set some reasonable goals to work toward. But it seemed that every time I decided I was going to sign up for the assessment, I’d get hurt, or a cold, or something else that kept me from feeling my best.

Last week, I made up my mind to take the test. When offered an appointment either the next day or this week, I jumped at the chance to take it the next day – before I could get sick or hurt or something. Friday evening I took the test, and I got back my results yesterday.

My lowest score (15th percentile = poor) was in my resting heart rate (84). Well, no surprise there. I told the person doing the test before she even started that my resting heart rate tends to be high. She said some people just are that way, even some marathon runners. (My doctor hasn’t expressed concern about it either.)

A better measure, she said, was my recovery heart rate after the 3-minute step test. Here I did better, with 109, which is considered above average (68th percentile). I’d like to think all that running I do is making a difference.

My BMI isn’t great either, at 25.9. But as that is pretty much the same as it was a year and a half ago before I started working out, I’m not inclined to be concerned about that one either. My body composition, as measure by some gadget that ran a weak electric current through me to distinguish how much of my weight is fat, was also a below average 32.5% (38th percentile).

I did much better when it came to tests of muscular strength and endurance. I scored in the 98th percentile on the YMCA bench press test, and 99th percentile on the YMCA half sit-up test. (She tried to tell me I scored over 100%, because I did more that the highest number for my age range in her handbook, but percentiles don’t work that way.)

I didn’t do as well with the sit and reach flexibility test – flexibility has never been one of my strengths. I’m sure I did better (57th percentile = above average) than I would have before I started working out, though. I always finish with stretches, and I can tell the difference from a year and a half ago.

Overall, those numbers average out to 62.6, which is above average. Not quite “good” though – that’s 75th percentile. (That means 75% of women 46-55 are not considered to have a “good” fitness level.)

So I got one answer I was looking for – all this working out has gotten me closer to “good” fitness but not there yet. Having goals to work toward is a bit harder, though. The recommendation for the muscular strength and endurance is to keep doing what I’m doing to maintain that fitness level. OK, I can do that. But it’s not exactly a goal to reach.

I’m skeptical about doing much to change my resting heart rate, if running three times a week (I’m up to 2.25 miles at a time) doesn’t do it. Exercise hasn’t changed my BMI either; I can’t say for sure about body composition because I don’t remember what it was last time it was tested. Perhaps my recovery heart rate will continue to improve as I continue to run.

That leaves flexibility. Well, I will keep doing my stretches, and maybe I need to find some others. (I use the Precor Stretch Trainer at the Y.) I certainly noticed my lack of flexibility in the lunchtime yoga class I’ve been taking the past few weeks – though at least this last week I didn’t feel sore afterward as I had the first two weeks.

Not the detailed “here’s the goal and how to get there” that I had wished for. But at least some motivation to keep doing what I’m doing.

One Response to Above average

  1. Karen O says:

    This is more motivation for me to get going on improving my own fitness. My main motivation is my grandson, Forrest. A 2-&-1/2 year old little boy is tough to keep up with.

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