Exercise: How to Get Started

Frequently Asked Questions

2. How do I know what my fitness level is?

To help you figure out your current activity level, try filling in an activity log. For a couple of weekdays and a weekend, keep track of how much time you exercise or are physically active. Write down how much time you spend doing each activity. Here are tests you can use that measure endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.

  • Endurance. Pick a fixed course—once around the block or from one end of the mall to the other. Time how long it takes you to walk it.
  • Upper-body Strength. Count how many arm curls you can do safely in 2 minutes.
  • Lower-body Strength. Count how many chair stands you can do safely in 2 minutes.
  • Balance. How long can you safely stand on one foot? (Stand next to something sturdy you can hold on to if you lose your balance.)
  • Flexibility. For this test, sit toward the front of a sturdy chair, and stretch one leg straight out in front of you with your heel on the floor and your toes pointing up. Bend the other leg and place your foot flat on the floor. Slowly bend from your hips and reach as far as you can toward the toes of your outstretched foot. How far can you reach before you feel a stretch?