How fit are you?

Running up a mountain

It can be hard to tell if you're making any progress on your fitness journey, especially if you only rely on how you look in the mirror. Fitness looks different for everyone, and one person's version of "fit" will always vary from the next person. With that said, we know that if you're working to improve your health, you want to know if what you're doing is improving your fitness level. Are you actually in shape? How can you tell? If you've been asking yourself similar questions, you're in the right place. Keep reading to learn how to acknowledge the areas you may be falling short in and identify things you can improve to help you reach your fitness goals.

1. Complete a Fitness Test
There are plenty of fitness tests out there that you can complete on your own to help identify any places for improvement. These tests will have you do things like squats (with proper form), full push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, and sit-ups, to name a few. All of these movements are relevant for your fitness journey. They help increase strength, range of motion, and stability. They also force you to incorporate the right muscle groups. If you find that doing any of these exercises gives you trouble, you should consider switching up your workout routine. Incorporating some of these basic exercises will help you become a stronger runner and enhance your comfort in daily life.

2. Focus on Nutrition
Many think that if they exercise enough, they won't have to bother with clean eating. That's simply not the case. Nutrition is one of the most neglected aspects of people's fitness journeys, and it can be hard to admit that it's an area we need to work on. Your everyday nutrition is key to becoming the healthiest version of yourself. Ask yourself: do you have a good understanding of your nutrition? Are you fueling your body with healthy food that will allow you to sustain your energy? Make sure you aren't restricting your food intake to a point where it is unhealthy. It's always important to talk to a medical professional before switching up your diet, just to be safe. They can help you figure out what works best for your body.

3. Regulate Your Sleep Schedule
Another health aspect that people think they can ignore is getting enough sleep each night. You must implement a regular sleep schedule into your routine. How much sleep are you getting each night, and is it uninterrupted? You might need to make changes if it's less than eight hours. It's also important to note that you can't really "catch up" on sleep. Sleeping for five hours a night for six days and then sleeping for twelve hours the next night isn't going to help you. Do your best to get your body on a set sleep schedule, and you'll see a noticeable difference in your energy levels when you begin your next workout.

4. Exercise Consistently
It might be obvious, but it's extremely important that you continue to exercise consistently. You don't have to do an intense workout every day, but getting enough exercise each week makes a huge difference. Make sure you're incorporating at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, and try to complete two days of strength training. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least five days a week, so if you're doing less than that, you might want to increase the time you set aside for workouts.

5. Check Your Heart Rate
People in good shape tend to have lower heart rates because their hearts can pump more efficiently. A normal heart rate is anywhere from 60 to 100 beats per minute. A number higher than that can be cause for concern because it can indicate high blood pressure or heart disease. You can check your heart rate to help determine if the exercises you're doing are helping. For the most accurate reading, check your heart rate in the morning.

If you've read through this article and didn't find anything you need to work on, then congratulations! You're doing a great job! But don't be too concerned if something we mentioned sounds like you. Everyone has aspects of their lives that they need to work on, and it isn't something to be ashamed of. The most important step is acknowledging the issue you're dealing with and creating an improvement plan. Hold yourself accountable, and make the change!