Top 3 Indicators of Long Term Health & Fitness
Many of us perceive ourselves are healthier or more functional than we truly are, and we rely on simple conveniences to hide some basic movement dysfunctions nearly every day of our life.
However, if we take these basic functions for granted, we’re accelerating the potential for a setback of sorts, much like a car speeding on the freeway with bald tires, an oil leak, with the emergency brake on!
Take these 3 simple, DIY tests you can administer on yourself right now! You don’t need any special equipment or the supervision of a trainer, physical therapist, chiropractor or medical professional. Your ability to complete the tasks will provide direct feedback whether you are at risk and need to address these “indicators of health & fitness”.
The first self-test is a basic screen to assess your balance. Simply put your socks on, or off, without the need to sit down or hold on to something or someone. Also, pay attention whether you are grunting when performing the task (which we will expand on for the breathing portion of the 3-steps self-testing).
The second exercise assesses the mobility of your lower limbs, from hips to toes, via knees and ankles. From a tailor-sit position, ankles crossed, stand up (by yourself) any which way you can without the use of your hands. We show two ways of standing up in the video. While neither is necessarily “the right way”, the ability to do one only versus the other can also indicate some movement dysfunctions. This ability is especially important for older adults, as statistically, the elder population suffers debilitating hip injuries from not just lack of strength, but lack of mobility first and foremost, from a variety of causes ranging from arthritis to injuries (whether addressed surgically or not).
The third and final DIY test measures your functional residual lung capacity. Unlike a “maximal capacity test” where you are required to hold your breath as long as possible from a deep inhale, this is a much more gentle test, albeit subjective in its execution. So, we ask you to be honest, as you are only lying to yourself if you cheat! We’re trying to help you here :).
- Breathe neutrally, as you are reading these instructions for instance. No forced inhale or exhale.
- Upon your (relaxed) exhale, pinch your nose or hold your breath before taking your next inhale.
- Measure the time holding your breath until you feel the need to take your next inhale. Again: this is not a max capacity test! Do not hold your breath until purple! We don’t want you to pass out. Only when you feel the need to breathe in again do you stop the test and record your time.
- If you held your breath for 20-30 seconds (25 seconds being the population average for residual functional lung capacity), you are not exhibiting signs of breathing dysfunction. If over 30 seconds, you are exceptional 🙂
- If you held your breath less than 20 seconds, there may be a potential for a breathing pattern dysfunction.
- If you held your breath less than 10 seconds, there is a definite dysfunction in your breathing.
The reason breathing is so important yet so overlooked in most people’s training is that is carries a significant role in your life. On the simple comprehension level, you’ve heard the algorithm of going without food for 3 weeks, without water for 3 days, but try to go without air for 3 minutes (we’re not even talking hours here!)
On a more complex comprehension level, breathing plays biomechanical, biochemical and psychophysical roles. Good breathing promotes good movement and vice versa (biomechanical). Any hindrance in one’s breathing can negatively impact movement, much like any musculoskeletal dysfunction can impair breathing. Biochemically, it helps regulate our intake of O2, conversion into CO2, connection to the cardiovascular system etc. And finally, it affects our mood, our energy levels, our outlook and perception.
Stay tuned for more articles to follow on how to address and improve each aspect of these three simple tests. We’d love to hear from you!