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Fitness is not simply a matter of looking your best. The more fit you are, the better your quality of life. Being active and physically fit not only allows you to continue doing the things you enjoy, it helps you to reduce the risks of certain diseases. You can improve your fitness at any stage of your life, even if you have never exercised consistently. Measuring fitness levels at the age of 70 allows you to design an exercise program that targets cardiovascular health, strength and flexibility -- all of which decrease with age.
Test your endurance by putting on comfortable, sturdy walking shoes and walking for six minutes at a moderate pace, ideally on a typical outdoor marked track of 400 meters, which equals 437 yards. You should be exerting yourself a little bit but still able to carry on a conversation. Measure the number of yards you have walked. At the age of 70, you should be able to walk between 480 and 615 yards if you are a woman, and 545 to 680 yards if you're a man. If you managed to walk less than 350 yards, you are dangerously unfit in this category and should consult your physician to design a fitness plan specific to your needs.
Gauge your upper body flexibility by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your posture relaxed. Reach over your shoulder toward the center of your back with one hand and reach up behind your back with the other. Have a helper measure the distance between your middle fingers with a ruler. For each inch your middle fingers are apart, score -1 point. If you're flexible enough that they overlap, score +1 point for every overlapping inch. If your middle fingers just barely touch, your score is zero. The normal range of scores for 70-year-old men is between -8 and -1, while most 70-year-old women have scores of between -4 and +1. Note, though, that for this test, a вЂњnormalвЂќ score isn't necessarily a healthy score. For men, a healthy score is -4 or higher, while for women the target healthy score is -2 or higher.
Assess your lower body flexibility by placing a straight chair with its back against a wall. Sit on the edge of the chair with one foot flat on the floor. Stretch your other leg straight out with your heel resting on the floor. Place one hand on top of the other with your middle fingers lined up. Bend from the hips and reach for your toes. Have your helper measure the distance between your middle fingertips and your toes if you cannot reach them. Score -1 point for every inch your middle fingertip is away from your toes. If you can touch your toes, your score is zero; if you can reach past your toes, score +1 point for every inch and 0.5 points for half-inches. At 70 years old, the normal point range for women is -1 to +4, and for men, it's -3.5 to +2.5. You are considered at risk of decreased functional flexibility if your score is -2 or lower for women, and -4 or lower for men.
Test your overall strength and fitness by doing pushups. These not only indicate your arm, leg and core strength, they can help predict how successfully you can catch yourself if you fall, and how likely it is that you will be able to get back up. The national average for 60-year-olds is six pushups for women and 17 for men, so by the age of 70 you may want to aim for three pushups for women and eight to 10 for men. Start if necessary by leaning against a wall or countertop at a 45-degree angle and then progress to pushups done with your knees bent and resting on the floor before working up to full pushups.
- Walk at a brisk but comfortable pace for 15 to 30 minutes at least five times per week to start increasing your overall fitness level.