Exercise to stay active as you grow older

Arm curls.
Arm curls.

If you’ve started to exercise regularly, you’ve probably noticed some positive changes. Try some simple tests to see just how much progress you’ve made. If you can see the benefits of regular exercise, you’re probably more likely to stick with it.

To find out just how far you’ve come, you can do these simple tests that measure endurance, strength, balance and flexibility.

To test your endurance, pick a fixed course – the distance from your house to the corner, once around the track at your local high school, or from one end of the mall to the other. Whatever is convenient. See how long it takes to walk that distance. Do this test every month. As your endurance improves, it should take less time.

How many arm curls? To test your upper body strength, count the number of arm curls you can safely do in two minutes. If you are just starting to exercise, you may have to stop and rest before the two minutes are up. That’s okay; it still gives you a great starting point to measure your progress. Repeat the test one month later. The number of arm curls you can do should increase.

One leg stand.
One leg stand.

Check your body strength. Count the number of chair stands you can safely do in two minutes. You may have to stop and rest before the two minutes are up if you are just starting to exercise. That’s okay; you will be able to measure your progress from this starting point. Repeat the test one month later. The number of chair stands you can do should increase. (Don’t use your arms to help you stand up.)

To test your balance, time yourself as you stand on one foot, without support, for as long as possible. Stand near something sturdy to grab on to, in case you lose your balance. Record your score. Repeat the test while standing on the other foot. Test yourself again in one month. The amount of time you can stand on one foot should increase.

– Courtesy Seniors Health, U.S. National Institute of Health

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