PURSUIT OF CALM #24
Physical training for mental well-being
Mind training for physical well-being

Hello Friends…

As we begin to apply the hand-break to 2021, and before 2022 accelerates and we find ourselves eating Easter eggs (again) within a blink of eyelid, I thought it an opportune time, especially after my last post, to share some easy-to-do-at-home strength and fitness tests.

Now these ‘tests’ could be deemed pretty arbitrary, because they are – given each of our own varying degrees of health, fitness, age, gender – so be mindful not to overthink it and approach it purely as an opportunity to ‘see where you’re at’ and where you can ‘start from’.
These tests are a measure of you and you alone, not against anyone else.

Medical Note: While all of these tests have studies showing their results correlate with predicted mortality, that’s usually because they measure some other general aspect of health like cardiovascular fitness, skeletal muscle density, or flexibility. Make sure to consult a doctor before making any life changes based on the results of these tests, especially if you’re over 40 or have any chronic or pre-existing health conditions.

PS: Given it’s the dawn of the silly season I’d recommend (Rob) not to attempts these during or after Christmas lunch, and quite possible the next day.

Test 1: Resting Heart Rate RHR: 

Take this test ideally early in the day, just as you get up is a perfect time, and before any strenuous exercise, caffeine, or stressful situations like Croc wearers.

  1. Get a stopwatch, use smartphone
  2. Find your radial artery on your wrist, or carotid artery in your neck (my preference) – below jaw, to side of windpipe.
  3. Place index and middle fingers over artery (don’t use thumb – it has it’s own artery) so you can feel your pulse
  4. Start the stopwatch and count the number of pulse beats you feel in a 15 second period – multiply this number by 4 to get your beats per minute (BPM)
  5. Repeat this 2-3 times to get an accurate BPM reading.

How To Interpret Your RHR Results

According to a 2015 meta-analysis: The risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality increased by 9% for every 10 beats/min increment of resting heart rate.  In a 2012 study of 2700 middle aged men in Copenhagen confirmed: “Resting heart rate in the range 51-80 BPM was associated with about a 40-50% increase in [mortality] risk, a resting heart rate in the range 81-90 conferred a twofold increase in risk.

A resting heart rate of above 90 BPM conferred a threefold increase is risk compared to subjects in the lowest heart rate category (<50BPM).

While too-low RHR can be an indication of problems like certain heart conditions, high levels of potassium in your blood, or taking medications like beta-blockers, generally lower is better, and healthy athletes have been know to have RHR’s as low as 40.

 

Test 2: Walking Speed

1. Find a 20 meter long, flat stretch of floor or ground; ideally a finished floor without any obstructions or a flat outdoor paved area.

2. Place some sort of marker at 5 meters, and another at 15 meters from your starting line. This will give you a 5 meter “acceleration zone,” a 10 meter zone for the actual test, and a 5 meter “deceleration zone” so you don’t subconsciously slow down before the full 10 meters is up.

3. Get a stopwatch, watch with a second hand, or use the stopwatch functionality on your smartphone.

4. At the starting line, start walking as fast as you safely can. Imagine you are trying to reach a bus that is about to pull out. As soon as you cross the first 5 meter marker start your stopwatch.

6. Keep walking as fast as you safely can.

7. When you cross the 15 meter mark stop your stopwatch.

8. Slow to a stop in the final 5 meters.

9. Calculate your walking speed by dividing 10 by the number of seconds your stopwatch recorded, to get your walking speed in meters/second.

10. Repeat this test another 2-3 times and take the average of the results for a more accurate WS m/s reading.

How To Interpret Your Walking Pace Results

According to a 2013 study, “Each additional minute per mile in walking pace was associated with an increased risk of mortality due to all causes” of 1.8% and, “Those reporting a pace slower than a 24-minute mile [about 1.1 m/s] were at increased risk for mortality due to all-causes (44.3% increased risk).”

Test 3: Push Ups Test: 

My favourite exercise.
Why?
The overall fitness of your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core is an excellent proxy for your body’s vitality.

1. Find a flat space on the floor to do push ups.
2. Get a stopwatch, watch with a second hand, or use the stopwatch functionality on your smartphone and place it on the floor where you will see it while doing your push ups. Set the timer to 1 minutes
3. Get in a push up position (hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, body flat like a plank, elbows at a 45 degree angle to your body).
4. Start your stopwatch and try to do as many good-form push ups as you can, counting them as you go (lower yourself until your chest touches the ground or your elbows are in line with your shoulders, and remember to keep your lower back flat, not sagging or rounded!).
5. Keep going until the 1 minute is up. 1 minute can feel like a long time, so stop, rest and restart when ever you need to during the 1 minute phase
6. Record your total number of pushups.

Test 4: Hand Grip Test…don’t be rude boys

A study in the Lancet found that the firmness of your hand grip (both hands boys) is correlated with heart health, and can be an early indicator of your risk of early death, disability, and illness. Researchers also say that a simple hand grip test can be better than your blood pressure at assessing your health

Method. Dead-Hang

Find a bar to hang from – tree branches work, or take over the monkey bars in the park. Start the stop watch and measure. A good result to aim for is: Males 2 min and Females 1 minute. Click here for video demo

Also: Most doctor surgeries will have a ‘dynamometer’ to measure grip-strength

Test 6: Sit-Rise Test

This test is designed to determine how flexible and strong your are. This test will see if you have enough quad strength and balance to get up. Quad strength is incredibly important as we age to reduce the risk of slips and falls.

This test has on some sites been ‘debunked’ as a method to determine ‘longevity’ – but I still think its a pretty good strength, balance indicator, both of which are important for a longer healthier life

How it works: Sit on the ground with legs crossed. Get back up without using hands – heads-up: it’s hard. Click here for video demo 

Test 7: Chair Test

Again this test again focuses on quad strength, balance and some endurance – all non-fragility qualities.

How it works: Set a timer for 1 minute and stand in front of a chair (dining chair). Sit down and stand up as many time as you can before the timer goes of. Click here for video demo (I chose this video because the lady is wearing a nice hat)

Test 8: Standing Stork Test

Combing quad/leg strength and balance.

Being able to balance is linked to longevity because it’s closely related to coordination – and this prevents injury by avoiding trip/fall accidents.

This test is a good indicator on your sense of balance, or wobble, proprioception, and Karate Kid moves.

How it works: Set a timer and stand on one leg and place the other foot at your knee, and then raise the heel of the foot on the floor. If you want to make it more challenging, close your eyes during the process. Click here for video demo

 

Feedback is welcomed:
I’d love to hear from you, so don’t be shy in sharing your thoughts and feedback and even the ‘test’ results from above.
If you need to any help, suggestions, strategies to improving your test scores, or general fitness, strength, mindfulness etc do not hesitate to drop me a line.

Peace & Health
Luke

In my next article:  The Christmas Edition “Crapulent & Crambazzled”

Coming Up: 

  • Your not overweight because you don’t exercise or go to the gym
  • 4-Minute Bursts of Intense Exercise – The Secret to Longevity?
  • The 4 ’S’s: Stress, Sleep, Sobriety & [P]Sychology
  • Is Blaming Your ‘Job’ Really An Excuse?
  • Reflection, Reading & Journalling
  • Strength Training
  • Satiation
  • The 4 “C”s: Calm, Courage, Curiosity & Consistency
  • Habit Strategies

 

 

 

Disclaimer: It needs to be noted and understood that what I write on this blog format must not be interpreted nor construed as ‘personal medical advice’.
The written word can easily be mis-interpreted, especially my own god-awful writing ability.
I try to emphasis, as awkwardly as I do, that I have no skills, training nor studies under my belt to advise or diagnose when it comes to medical or psychological conditions.
If you need professional help or advice then please seek it.  
My own advocacy is shot primarily through the prism of my own life-experience. I only promote lifestyle and the related choices and habits that optimise sleep, mindset, nutrition and physical strength. All incredibly powerful and profound methods to improve all aspects of one’s own health-wealth, but potentially not the remedy ‘proper’ for those individuals that may require professional clinical diagnosis, medical intervention and/or treatment.
Peace
Luke