By Bunmi Sofola
No matter how inevitable ageing is, a lot of us want to prolong the process. Recently, a renowned personal trainer, Robert Cartwright, and a chartered physiotherapist Sammy Margo came up with simple tests and tips to find out if you’re as healthy as you should be and what you can do if you’re not.
If you’re in your 20s—The Test: Set a stopwatch on your mobile phone to two minutes and count how many press-ups you can manage within this time. Afterwards try the same with sit-ups. Finally, run for around one mile—this can even include chasing your kids around—and time how long it takes.
Results: At this state most exercise shouldn’t be a problem. On average, you should be able to do 30 press-ups in two minutes and 50 sit-ups. It should take 10 minutes or less to run one mile.
Improve your fitness: In your 20s, you should have lots of energy and it’s an important decade for building good exercise habits while you are in good health and have time. Try to get into the habit of mixing cardio and strength training. Good workouts include circuit classes, running, cycling and lifting weights.
In your 30s—The Test: Run 1.5 miles at a comfortable pace, recording your distance on a treadmill or on a fitness—tracker mobile app.
Results: In your 30s you might not have the energy that you had when you were in your 20s, which means you will have to work harder, but ideally you should still be able to run 1.5 miles in 16 minutes or less.
Improve your fitness: Make an effort to still fit sport or exercise into your daily day-to-day life. You could cycle to work or take your family swimming at the weekends. Flexibility decreases in your 30s, so try to take part in a yoga session once a week too.
In your forties—The Test: Find a high step or block of about 12 inches. Step up unto the step and off again, one foot at a time for three minutes. Then count the pulse in your wrist to measure your heart rate.
Result: An average for a woman in her 40s to 60s should be 96-100 beat per minute.
Improve Your Fitness: It is normal for people to put on weight more easily in their 40s, but boosting your physical activity can knock years off your body age. Try functional training, which prepares your body for everyday tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home or at work.
For example, doing squats help you to get up and out of a chair more easily or doing lunges helps you lift more, run faster and improves your posture.
In your 50s-The Test: This exercise will test your muscle strength, balance flexibility and agility. It is notoriously difficult, so it may take practise. It’s not recommended for anyone with arthritic knees. Stand in front of a mirror in comfortable clothes with no shoes on. Without using your hands for support or kneeling on the way down, lower yourself into a cross-legged sitting position on the floor. Then without using your hands, knees or arms for support, return to the standing position. Score how you do out of 10, subtracting one point every time you have to use a hand or knee for support, and half a point for every time you wobble or lose balance.
Results: You should aim to score eight or above.
Improve your fitness: You might start to get more aches and pain in this decade and your blood pressure can increase, but exercise can help. Walk to places such as the shops instead of driving, and aim to do 10,000 steps per day. Swimming, dancing or carrying out household chores such as scrubbing the floor or mowing the lawn can help too.