Prepare to Be Presidentially Fit
Over the years, many of us have heard children talk (or whine) about the President's fitness test, The President's Challenge. In fact, many of us survived some version of the test ourselves. The PACER (running), trunk lifts, push-ups, the sit and reach all held a level of misery or pride among grade school students.
Guess what? There's also an adult version of the test that can help determine how fit you are or what areas you need to work on to improve your overall fitness. This grown-up version of the kids' test evaluates four key areas:
Aerobic fitness (test involves a 400-meter walk, a 1-mile walk and a 1.5-mile run)
Muscular strength and endurance (test includes half sit-ups and push-ups)
Flexibility (test includes the sit and reach)
Body Composition (test measures BMI and waist circumference)
Are you curious to see where you stand? Visit www.presidentschallenge.org to take the assessment and see how you measure up. Remember, it's never too late to take steps to improve your overall health and fitness—you can even make it more fun by incorporating a variety of activities. Here are some simple ways to get started:
Squat Your Way To Strength
Although squats are a leg exercise, they help build muscle throughout your entire body. Squats also promote mobility and balance, making it easier to complete everyday activities in your day-to-day life. Squats will also help you burn calories. Talk to a personal trainer about how to get started and use proper form, or, as you progress, how to make squats more challenging.
Carve A Killer Core With Pilates
Working your core is about so much more than having washboard abs—although that can be a nice benefit! Your core muscles connect your upper and lower body. They play an important role in your physical well-being and help power you through daily activities, ranging from exercising to cleaning your home. A strong core improves balance and flexibility, which reduces your chances of falling or injuring yourself during work or play.
A strong core can also reduce back pain (or the likelihood of developing back pain), improve your posture (your spine will thank you) and make everyday tasks easier. One of the best ways to strengthen your core muscles is by doing Pilates, with its numerous core-based exercises. Try working a few classes into your fitness routine to start building your core strength.
Limber Up With Yoga
Stretching is an important part of your fitness plan. Not only does it improve your range of motion and increase circulation, it also calms your mind, which may help reduce injury and illness. An added bonus is that it may even help you sleep better. To increase your flexibility, incorporate some yoga poses into your fitness routine or check out a yoga class. Not ready for yoga? Talk to a trainer about simple stretches you can do each day.
Kick Up Your Muscle Tone
Kickboxing is a full-body workout that promotes both muscle toning and cardiovascular endurance. It combines boxing, martial arts and aerobics in a variety of exercises. This type of exercise targets all major muscle groups while improving balance, flexibility, coordination and even self-confidence. Plus, it's just really fun to punch and kick—even if it's just with an imaginary target!
Step Up Your Aerobic Activity
Is it any wonder we sing the praises of aerobic activity? Aerobic exercise can help you keep off extra weight, increase stamina, keep you healthier, strengthen your heart and improve your mood. Want to know how to incorporate some aerobic activity into your fitness plan? Go for a walk outdoors or use a treadmill at the gym. Ride a bike or join an indoor cycling class. Play tennis or racquetball. Take a step aerobics class, dance or join a Zumba class. The options are endless.
Lift For Lean Muscles
Strength training isn't just for jocks or big, muscle-bound guys—it benefits everyone. From reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass to developing strong bones and sharpening focus, lifting weights is an important element for an overall fitness plan, especially since muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. Strength training can be done at any age, both at home and at the gym. Options include using your own body weight (think push-ups, pull-ups, crunches and squats), resistance bands, free weights and weight machines.
Dive Into Fitness
People at every fitness level can reap benefits from swimming. Not only is swimming easy on the body, it's a great way to get fit, since it uses all of the major muscle groups and gives you a cardiovascular and strengthening workout at the same time. Not a swimmer? Try water aerobics or other water-based activities. Exercising in water is beneficial for everyone, but especially for seniors. That's because it's easy on joints yet improves cardiovascular health, increases strength and slows down the age-related loss of muscle mass.
Remember, no matter where you are on the physical fitness spectrum, there are steps you can take to start improving your overall fitness and health, while having some fun along the way.