Measure Your Cardiovascular Fitness

From The American College of Sports Medicine I found this cardiovascular fitness test – one of the most important indicators of your overall physical health.

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.

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