What is Fitness and How Can We Measure it?

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What is Fitness?

Biologically speaking, an organism would be considered as having fitness if it is able to survive to reproduce. Typically, humans survive well beyond their reproductive years. For us, fitness has taken on a new definition that is related to the stage of life we are in and our overall level of health. In our 20’s and 30’s, being fit means having a strong, toned, lean body that makes us more desirable to potential mates. As we age, being fit might mean being able to play with children and grandchildren.

Being fit can mean that you can run faster, jump higher and lift heavier weights. Being fit can also mean that you are more resilient to stress, injury and disease. In many ways, fitness and health are synonymous. To increase your fitness level, you need to expose your body to the right kind of stress, so as to cause adaptation. It is important to note that fitness is a journey and not a destination. After years of taking care of yourself by eating the right kinds of foods, getting ample exercise and sleep, managing your stress level and living a rewarding life, you will get to a point where you have a high level of fitness. But fitness is a dynamic and not a static entity. You will never get to a point where you have enough fitness and now you can just slack off and relax. The human body is either improving or regressing, and in response to the right stimulus (exercise), and under the right conditions (diet, sleep, managed stress levels, rewarding life), it will continue to improve.

How to Measure Fitness?

A common measurement of fitness is the Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a formula that uses your body weight and height to give you a score that categorizes you as either underweight, normal or obese.

“Who are you calling obese?”

This index doesn’t work very well for athletes that carry extra lean body mass as they might be categorized as obese. The opposite end of the spectrum is the individual who has very little lean body mass but carries extra body fat, but gets categorized as normal. We do not use BMI at Back to Function, as there are better ways to measure fitness.

Enter the Back to Function Fitness Challenge. This is 10 easy to perform tests that we think do a good job of measuring an individual’s overall fitness level. We use the results from each test to give a score from 50 to 100. The goal is to get each test over 80 points on the score sheet. Since the total of the 10 tests is out of 1000:

  • A score of 700 is average (think a “C” in school)
  • A score of 800 is good (“B”)
  • A score of 900 is excellent (“A”)
  • A score of 1000 is elite-level (“A+”)

Here is a chart that lists the tests, the fitness parameter it is testing and an 80-point score for males and females.

FITNESS TEST FITNESS COMPONENT 80-POINT MALES 80-POINT FEMALES
BODY FAT PERCENTAGE OVERALL HEALTH <13% <18%
MEDICINE BALL CHEST THROW UPPER BODY POWER 10 LB BALL

30 FEET

6 LB BALL

25 FEET

VERTICAL JUMP LOWER BODY POWER 23 INCHES 19 INCHES
60-SECOND BOX SQUATS LOWER BODY STRENGTH 60 50
TRIPLE PLANK CORE STRENGTH/STABILITY 5 MINUTES 5 MINUTES
60-SECOND PULL UPS UPPER BODY PULL STRENGTH 10 6
60-SECOND PUSH UPS UPPER BODY PUSH STRENGTH 30 16
5 X 60-SECOND JUMP ROPE CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH/COORDINATION 700 JUMPS 700 JUMPS
1-LEG BALANCE  (EYES CLOSED) BALANCE 60 SECS 60 SECS
SIT & REACH FLEXIBILITY 0 INCHES 3 INCHES

The other fitness assessment that is obvious is “how do you look?” Take a look in the mirror. Do you like what you see? If so, then you’re probably close to an ideal level of fitness. If you see extra body fat, asymmetry in your musculature and dark circles around your eyes, it is probably time to make a change.

Of course, there is no substitute for the subjective measurement of “how do you feel?” If you are eating and training a certain way and it truly makes you feel good, then chances are you’re on the right track. It is those other times, when you don’t feel like you’re eating healthy, not getting enough sleep and exercise, that you feel like you need to make a change.

Regardless, any assessment of your fitness level is mostly an assessment of results. To be truly fit means that you are optimizing each facet of your fitness process. Whether you are just starting out on your fitness journey, or are a seasoned athlete looking to take your fitness to the next level, Back to Function can help you achieve your goals. Give us a call at 310-534-1900 or email info@backtofunction.com to Feel, Recover & Perform Better Now!

References:

Fitness Guide from Examine.com

Dr. Chad Moreau
About Dr. Chad Moreau

Dr. Chad Moreau is the President of Back to Function, a sports chiropractic office dedicated to providing elite quality care for athletes and athletic-minded clients. He is also the Chiropractic Consultant for the University of Southern California Athletics. He was the team chiropractor for the Los Angeles Kings (NHL) from 2012-2020, Los Angeles Dodgers 2017-2019 and the Los Angeles Lakers 2020. He can be contacted at drchad@backtofunction.com.

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