As a diabetic, though, you will need to be honest with yourself before you start. If you have not been exercising and if you have medical conditions that may impede your ability to exercise, do not try some of this. Also, please contact your health care team about wanting to take this test. Make sure you are in control of your diabetes before any exercise, especially if your blood glucose levels are very high. If you have concerns, take the test at a health club with professionals present to help you if you need medical intervention.
Aerobic exercise, such as running, walking, swimming and cycling are important because they improve the efficiency of pumping blood to the heart, picking up oxygen in the lungs, and the unloading of oxygen into body tissue. These systems allow your working muscles to get oxygen more quickly and efficiently. Studies have shown that regular cardiovascular exercise can significantly reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
You can test the efficiency of your heart and lungs in several ways:
The 12-minute test: For this test, a treadmill or school track are ideal, but you could also do this in your neighborhood by measuring distances with your automobile odometer. The object is to see how much distance you can cover in a set amount of time. You’ll need a stopwatch or some other device that can measure 12 minutes, First, warm up with stretching and 5 minutes of an aerobic workout such as brisk walking, steps, running or alternating walking and running. Keep track of how far you walk in the 12 minutes. Remember, that one lap around a standard track equals 1/4 mile.
Your score is the distance you cover in the 12 minutes.
The 1.5 mile test: This test is similar to the 12 minute test, however, in this test the distance is constant and the time varies. You cover 1.5 miles as quickly as you can. Again, you’ll need a stop watch and a way to measure 1.5 miles. You can do this with a treadmill, a school track, a park, or once again, by measuring the distance with your car odometer.Once again, warm up properly before you begin the test.
Your score is the time it takes you to cover the 1.5 miles.
The Step-up Test: For this you will need a sturdy box or bench that is about 12 inches high or an exercise step with risers, and a stop watch or timer. One important note is that you are not to practice before you begin as this could confound the results.
Wearing athletic shoes, begin by starting the timer and stepping up with your right foot, heel to ball of your foot and then do the same with the left foot. Step down with the right ball of foot to heel and do the same with left foot. This up and down motion is one complete “step”.
The pace should be two of these complete “steps” every five seconds, for a pace of 24 “steps” per minute. You can get an idea for the cadence by clapping it out before you begin stepping.
Step for three minutes. When the time is up, IMMEDIATELY sit and begin to take your pulse. (The easiest way to count your pulse is to place two fingers on the side of your neck, where your carotid artery makes it easy to count.) Count your pulse for a full minute. Be aware that as your body recovers, the pace of your pulse might change dramatically, so pay close attention.
Your score is the number of beats you count in that minute.
Muscular strength and endurance:
Muscular strength is the ability of muscle fibers to exert force to overcome residence. The more muscle fibers there are, the more force can be exerted. Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle to exercise for an extended period of time without fatigue. Often muscle strains and pulls can be traced to poor muscle fitness.
The push-up test: This test examines how many push-ups you can do in correct form in one minute. You will need a timer or stopwatch and an exercise mat, It helps to have a partner timing and counting. Men begin in the standard push-up form: on the toes, hands shoulder width apart, back straight and head up.
Women begin in the modified position: knees bent at a 90% degree angle with feet crossed at the ankle, hands shoulder width apart and head up.
Keep your back straight at all times and make sure that you come down and push all the way up. Your score is the number of push-ups you do in one minute.
The sit-up test: Full sit-ups are rarely done anymore, as crunches exercise the abdominal area better and don’t put as much stress on the lower back. However, full sit-ups are used in this test because the technique can be copied and the exercises are representative of how much the muscles can endure.
For this test, you’ll need a stopwatch or timer. You may want a mat or towel for comfort. A partner can help by holding your feet, counting and keeping track of time, or you can hook your feet under furniture to keep them still and on the ground.
Begin on your back, knees bent, with your heels about 18 inches from your buttocks and fingertips near your ears. At the signal to begin, sit-up and touch your right elbow to your left knee. Return to starting position. Your shoulders should touch the floor, but the shoulders do not have to. On your next sit-up touch your left elbow to your right knee. Continue alternating in this fashion.
Your score is the number of sit-ups you can do in one minute.
Flexibility: As you age you may notice low back pain and stiffness elsewhere in your body. This is sometimes due to reduced flexibility and reduced elasticity of ligaments and tendons. Stretching is important to reduce this discomfort and avoid strains and tears.
The trunk flexion test:
You’ll need a yardstick and a 12-inch piece of masking tape or colored tape. Prepare by doing gentle stretching.
Place the tape in a straight line across the floor. Sit on the floor, legs straight out, feet about 10-12 inches apart, with your heels touching the tape. Place a yardstick with the “0” toward you and the 12 inch mark touching the tape. Begin with your arms straight out in front of you. Lean forward and touch the floor on either side of the yardstick with both hands, noting the closest number. Do this three times and use the best number.
Your score is the number on the ruler you’re able to touch.
What do the scores mean? Most likely you did better in some categories than others. Many people have terrific cardiovascular fitness, but are not very flexible, and others are very flexible or have great muscle strength but are not aerobically fit.
Of aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance and flexibility, the one that most correlates to better health is aerobic fitness. Doctors agree that if a person wants to improve health in a limited time, then aerobic exercise is the way to go. People with good cardiovascular fitness have a lower risk of colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease and a variety of other medical conditions.
The best thing to do is to start a aerobic program and stick with it. It can be as simple as walking or as complex as any of the sports that we have discussed with you in these exercise articles. If you take this test under the auspices of a health club or your health team, they will use it to help you plan a full program so that you will feel better, have fewer pains, be more flexible and become stronger and be able to do aerobic exercises.