Should you test your fitness at home?

Should you test your fitness at home?

As more Americans adapt to a remote work lifestyle, your home may have molded into many venues in one: your residence, your office and even your gym.

As we head into the cooler seasons and look to spend more time indoors, now is a great time to test your levels of fitness at home.

Basic fitness tests you can do at home measure many aspects of health, including flexibility, endurance, upper body strength, core strength, target heart rate and body size. Dr. Spencer Kirk, who specializes in sports medicine at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital’s Wellness Center in Downers Grove, IL, described a few different ones to consider:

  • BMI test: A comparison of your weight and height. Divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches.
  • Core strength test/ plank: An evaluation of your upper body strength and core stability. Hold a plank position with your forearms on the ground. Hold for as long as you can with good form.
  • Push-up test: An evaluation of your strength and endurance. Complete as many push-ups as you can with good form and not taking breaks.
  • 12-min run test (also known as the Cooper test): Measure of aerobic (endurance) fitness. Run or walk as far as possible in 12 minutes. This test is meant to be done on a track to accurate measure distance. Your distance in miles can be used to approximate your VO2 Max, which is the standard measurement of aerobic fitness.
    • VO2max = (35.97 x miles) – 11.29

After completing these tests, you may wonder where you measure up. For most of these tests, excluding BMI, there is no duration or number to use that is labeled “good or bad,” said Dr. Kirk. Instead, look at these as comparative tests that can be done periodically to see if you’ve increased your fitness or your strength, Dr. Kirk said.

The benefits of doing these tests is to determine your current fitness level, measure how effective your current exercise program is and identify any weakness or imbalance in your exercise program, Dr. Kirk explained.

“Try to avoid comparing your results to the general public or others. These are meant to be comparative tests to provide you feedback and guidance for future improvement,” Dr. Kirk said.

For more fitness inspiration, try creating an exercise plan and scheduling fitness sessions outside of work (before or after) to improve your health at home, Dr. Kirk recommended. If you organize it like you would grocery shopping for the week, it will be harder for things to get in the way, Dr. Kirk said.

“Any activity can be a form of a fitness test,” Dr. Kirk said. “That’s why it’s always good to record your workouts so that you can compare your efforts and adjust accordingly.”

Now is the perfect time to make an appointment with a primary care physician. Whether you live in Illinois or Wisconsin, it’s easy to find a doctor near you. 

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  1. Why do we still use BMI as any kind of accurate measure? At the height of his career, Michael Jordan was obese by that standard. It just discourages people from strength training and developing muscle, even though strength is a very important aspect of health.

  2. I think BMI is a place to start. From there, I look at waist size. If one is male and has a waist over 40 inches, or if one is female and has a waist over 36 inches, I am told that this is a concern, especially in terms of developing type 2 diabetes. If my assumptions are not right, I hope that someone will straighten me out.

  3. MICHAEL MCSHANE May 3, 2022 at 2:23 pm · Reply

    My experience with BMI is that it is highly inaccurate. The current BMI standards penalize people who have a higher muscle mass even though they take great care & pride in their fitness routine.

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About the Author

Anna Schapiro
Anna Schapiro

Anna Schapiro is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has a background in public relations and communications and studied journalism at Northwestern University. When she’s not working on internal communications for the organization, she enjoys cooking, reading and living in Chicago.