PURSUIT OF CALM #24
Physical training for mental well-being
Mind training for physical well-being
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.
- Get a stopwatch, use smartphone
- Find your radial artery on your wrist, or carotid artery in your neck (my preference) – below jaw, to side of windpipe.
- Place index and middle fingers over artery (don’t use thumb – it has it’s own artery) so you can feel your pulse
- 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)
- 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.
The overall fitness of your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core is an excellent proxy for your body’s vitality.
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
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
In my next article: The Christmas Edition “Crapulent & Crambazzled”
- 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
- The 4 “C”s: Calm, Courage, Curiosity & Consistency
- Habit Strategies
- Current Reading List & References:
Training The Mind & Cultivating Loving Kindness by Chögyam Trungpa
Dopamine Nation by Dr Anna Lembke
Welcoming the Unwelcome by Pema Chödrön
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
The Wisdom of Frugality by Emrys Westacott
4000 Weeks by Oliver Burkeman
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy
Mindsight: Change your brain and your life by Daniel J Siegel MD
Aristotle’s Way by Edith Hall
Wherever You Go, There You Are. John Kabat-Zinn
“Start Where You Are” by Pema Chödrön
“Breathe” by James Nestor
“The Places That Scare You” by Pema Chödrön
“In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts” by Gabor Maté
The Shortness Of Life by Seneca
“Lost Connections” by Johann Hari
How To Meditate – Pema Chödrön
The Wisdom of No Escape – Pema Chödrön
‘Breaking Down the Wall of Silence’ – Alice Miller
Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
Atomic Habits – James Clear
The New Rules For Lifting For Life – Lou Shuler
Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker PhD
Essentialism: The Discipline Pursuit Of Less – Greg McKeown
Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahnemen
Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The Resilience Project: Finding Happiness Through Gratitude Empathy & Mindfulness – Hugh Van Cuylenburg
Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Foods – Catherine Shanahan MD
The School of Life – An Emotional Education
The School of Life – How To Think More Effectively
The Consolations Of Philosophy – Alain De Botton
Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief – Jordan B Peterson
The Owners Manual for the Brain: The Ultimate Guide to Peak Mental Performance – Pierce J. Howard
The Daily Stoic / Stillness Is The Key / Ego Is The Enemy / The Obstacle is The Way– Ryan Halliday
Indistractable – How To Control Your Attention & Choose Your Life – Nir Eyal
Mindset – Dr Carol Dweck
The Holy Shit Moment: How Lasting Change Can Happen in A Minute – James Fell
Stop Playing Safe – Margie Warrell
The Worlds Fittest Book – Ross Edgley
The Art Of Resilience – Ross Edgley
The Oxygen Advantage: Scientific Proven Breathing Techniques To Revolutionise Your Health – Patrick McKeown
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell
The Practicing Mind – Develop Focus & Discipline Your Life – Thomas M. Sterner
Mistakes Were Made – Carol Travis & Elliot Aronson
Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Life: A Users Manual – Julian Baggini & Antonia Macaro
Good Habits Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick – Wendy Wood
The Madness of Crowds – Douglas Murray
The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
Wired To Eat – Robb Wolf
Philosophy For Life, and other dangerous situations – Jules Evans
Peak – Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool
The Body, A guide For Occupants – Bill Bryson
The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
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.