Why You Should Use Fitness Level, Not Just Weight, to Evaluate Your Health
HUFF… Huff… huff… another three laps to go! Can you jog a mile without stopping? That alone would take less than the 30 minutes of recommended continuous moderate aerobic exercise you are supposed to do at least five times a week1.
The total distance you can jog continuously relates to your fitness level (as cardiorespiratory endurance) as do muscular endurance, flexibility and muscle strength. Fitness level, clinical laboratory values – like blood pressure and serum cholesterol – and body mass are the main components to measuring physical health.
Health def: The state of being free from illness or injury; A person’s mental or physical condition.
Although weight is a factor in your health, what your body is able to do is just as important as your size. We already know that what your body mass is comprised of (body composition) means more to your health than gravity’s pull on that mass. Heavy athletes with low body fat are not obese, while approximately a half of the normal-weight population is obese2.
Whether you’re considered “skinny” or “fat,” your body needs to perform basic physical movements without injury or fainting. Besides getting through the day, being fit reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease3 and diabetes4, maintains bone health, improves metabolic markers and correlates with longevity.
Fitness in and around the gym can represent very practical applications, too. The mile jog example above is a physical activity that might happen in real life – getting from one end of a terminal to another before your plane takes off! Several exercises are functional in nature, enabling your body to perform daily activities easier. Squats strengthen muscles you engage for lifting heavy boxes and bicep curls activate the same muscles you need to carry luggage. Push-ups might mimic shoving furniture around while lunges are great for more efficiently climbing a steep hillside.
City Sports Club training offers a complimentary initial assessment which includes evaluation of your core strength, muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. Results are compared with standards for your gender and age5, indicating what level you are at. MayoClinic.org offers a simple do-it-yourself assessment6 as well. Use the knowledge of where you are currently towards developing your ability to do more by setting realistic goals and tracking your progress.
If your goal is to improve your physical condition, aka health, then start with measuring your degree of fitness and work on the areas you need to develop. Over time, with continued training you can feel results without a tape measure… or pesky scale.
- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, Executive Summary (2nd) – U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/PAG_ExecutiveSummary.pdf Accessed 8/23/2019
- S Palmer. When Thin Is Fat — If Not Managed, Normal Weight Obesity Can Cause Health Issues. Today’s Dietitian January 2011; 13(1): 14.
- P Dockrill. How Many Push-Ups You Can Do Could Predict Your Risk of Heart Disease. ScienceAlert.com 2/18/2019 https://www.sciencealert.com/what-new-science-says-about-men-who-can-do-over-40-push-ups Accessed 8/23/2019
- BL Willis, et al. Midlife Fitness and the Development of Chronic Conditions in Later Life. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2012; 172(17): 1333-1340.
- 5. LS Pescatello, et al. Health-related physical fitness testing and interpretation. In: ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014.
- “How Fit Are You? See How You Measure Up” MayoClinic.com https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20046433 Accessed 8/23/2019