When I was kid in the 80’s, my junior high participated in the Presidential Physical Fitness Award program where we were required to go through a battery of physical fitness tests. Sort of a way to recognize which kids were going to be athletes or not. That test always stayed with me and may have been the catalyst to propel me into the fitness industry.
Now it is called the President’s Challenge program and the program has evolved, moving away from recognizing athletic fitness to now providing a barometer on student’s health. Based on the latest science and research, the Presidential Youth Fitness Program places emphasis on the value of living a physically active and healthy lifestyle—in school and beyond.
Whether you agree with the program or not, at least some kids are being exposed to some physical activity in school and the program has provided tools and resources to motivate youth and adults to meet the Physical Activity and Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Most of us are beyond school years, but I know a lot of you would like to assess your physical fitness and establish a baseline so to improve your fitness. And this is important, especially if you are new to fitness and you want to start a program. It is also important if you are already physically fit and want to maintain or improve your fitness. Once you have established your current baseline, you can challenge yourself to improve.
Golfers have special physical needs because the stresses that the golf swing can put on the body and the repetitive nature of the game can lead to muscles imbalances. It is important to find out if there are any physical limitations or imbalances in your muscles so that you can address those in your fitness program to prevent injury.
So where do you begin? You should start by taking what I call a ‘fitness inventory’ of yourself. You won’t get a President’s Challenge award, but you can determine your strengths and weaknesses to build a better fitness plan.
The most common areas of fitness to assess are strength, endurance and flexibility. (Note: before you begin, make sure you check with your primary care physician to establish that is it safe for you to exercise.)
To assess your strength, try this simple challenge: do as many push-ups as you can. Men should be able to complete 10 push-ups or more and women should be able to complete 5 push-ups or more. Record your score and save to revisit and compare in a few months.
To assess your endurance, try this simple challenge: run or power walk for one mile. Record the amount of time it took to complete and save results to compare in a few months.
To assess your flexibility, try this simple sit and reach test. Sit of the ground with your legs extended and a yard stick between your legs. Place one hand on top of the other, then reach slowly forward as far as you can. Hold the position for a couple of seconds, and measure how far you have reached. Save your results to compare them in a few months.
Once you have recorded your results, your goal is to make incremental improvements each week in each area of fitness.