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Are you in STRESS????(either Physical or Mental)


Can "workplace stress" be defined?


We hear a lot about stress, but what is it? Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary defines stress as "the result produced when a structure, system or organism is acted upon by forces that disrupt equilibrium or produce strain". In simpler terms, stress is the result of any emotional, physical, social, economic, or other factors that require a response or change. It is generally believed that some stress is okay (sometimes referred to as "challenge"or "positive stress") but when stress occurs in amounts that you cannot handle, both mental and physical changes may occur.

"Workplace stress" then is the harmful physical and emotional responses that can happen when there is a conflict between job demands on the employee and the amount of control an employee has over meeting these demands. In general, the combination of high demands in a job and a low amount of control over the situation can lead to stress.

Stress in the workplace can have many origins or come from one single event. It can impact on both employees and employers alike. As stated by the Canadian Mental Health Association:

Fear of job redundancy, layoffs due to an uncertain economy, increased demands for overtime due to staff cutbacks act as negative stressors. Employees who start to feel the "pressure to perform" can get caught in a downward spiral of increasing effort to meet rising expectations with no increase in job satisfaction. The relentless requirement to work at optimum performance takes its toll in job dissatisfaction, employee turnover, reduced efficiency, illness and even death. Absenteeism, illness, alcoholism, "petty internal politics", bad or snap decisions, indifference and apathy, lack of motivation or creativity are all by-products of an over stressed workplace.

From: Canadian Mental Health Association, "Sources of Workplace Stress" Richmond, British Columbia.



I have heard stress can be both good and bad. Is this true?

Some stress is normal. In fact, it is often what provides us with the energy and motivation to meet our daily challenges both at home and at the workplace. Stress in these situations is the kind that helps you "rise" to a challenge and meet your goals such as deadlines, sales or production targets, or finding new clients. Some people would not consider this challenge a type of stress because, having met the challenge, we are satisfied and happy. However, as with most things, too much stress can have negative impacts. When the feeling of satisfaction turns into exhaustion, frustration or dissatisfaction, or when the challenges at work become too demanding, we begin to see negative signs of stress.


What are examples of things that cause stress at the workplace?

In the workplace, stress can be the result of any number of situations. Some examples include:

Categories of Job Stressors Examples of Sources of Stress
Factors unique to the job
  • workload (overload and underload)
  • pace / variety / meaningfulness of work
  • autonomy (e.g., the ability to make your own decisions about our own job or about specific tasks)
  • shiftwork / hours of work 
  • skills / abilities do not match job demands
  • lack of training and/or preparation (technical and social)
  • lack of appreciation
  • physical environment (noise, air quality, etc)
  • isolation at the workplace (emotional or working alone)
Role in the organization
  • role conflict (conflicting job demands, multiple supervisors/managers)
  • role ambiguity (lack of clarity about responsibilities, expectations, etc)
  • level of responsibility
Career development
  • under/over-promotion
  • job security (fear of redundancy either from economy, or a lack of tasks or work to do)
  • career development opportunities
  • overall job satisfaction
Relationships at work (Interpersonal)
  • supervisors (conflicts or lack of support)
  • coworkers (conflicts or lack of support)
  • subordinates
  • threat of violence, harassment, etc (threats to personal safety)
  • lack of trust
  • lack of systems in workplace available to report and deal with unacceptable behaviour
Organizational structure/climate
  • participation (or non-participation) in decision-making
  • management style
  • communication patterns (poor communication / information flow)
  • lack of systems in workplace available to respond to concerns
  • not engaging employees when undergoing organizational change
  • lack of perceived fairness (who gets what when, and the processes through which decisions are made). Feelings of unfairness magnify the effects of perceived stress on health.
Work-Life Balance
  • role/responsibility conflicts
  • family exposed to work-related hazards

Adapted from: Murphy, L. R., Occupational Stress Management: Current Status and Future Direction. in Trends in Organizational Behavior, 1995, Vol. 2, p. 1-14, and UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) "Managing the causes of work-related stress: A step-by-step approach using the Management Standards", 2007.


Can stress cause health effects?

Yes, stress can have an impact on your overall health. Our bodies are designed, pre-programmed if you wish, with a set of automatic responses to deal with stress. This system is very effective for the short term "fight or flight" responses we need when faced with an immediate danger. The problem is that our bodies deal with all types of stress in the same way. Experiencing stress for long periods of time (such as lower level but constant stressors at work) will activate this system, but it doesn't get the chance to "turn off". The body's "pre-programmed" response to stress has been called the "Generalized Stress Response" and includes:

  • increased blood pressure
  • increased metabolism (e.g., faster heartbeat, faster respiration)
  • decrease in protein synthesis, intestinal movement (digestion), immune and allergic response systems
  • increased cholesterol and fatty acids in blood for energy production systems
  • localized inflammation (redness, swelling, heat and pain)
  • faster blood clotting
  • increased production of blood sugar for energy
  • increased stomach acids

From: Basic Certification Training Program: Participant's Manual, Copyright© 2006 by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario.

Stress can contribute to accidents/injuries by causing people to:

  • sleep badly
  • over-medicate themselves and/or drink excessively
  • feel depressed
  • feel anxious, jittery and nervous
  • feel angry and reckless (often due to a sense of unfairness or injustice)

When people engage in these behaviours or are in these emotional states, they are more likely to:

  • become momentarily (but dangerously) distracted
  • make errors in judgment
  • put their bodies under physical stress, increasing the potential for strains and sprains
  • fail in normal activities that require hand-eye or foot-eye coordination.

Stress can also lead to accidents or injuries directly by not giving the person the control necessary to stop the threat to their physical well-being.

Luckily, there are usually a number of warning signs that help indicate when you are having trouble coping with stress before any severe signs become apparent. These signs are listed below.


How do I know if someone is (or if I am) having trouble coping with stress?

There are many different signs and symptoms that can indicate when someone is having difficulty coping with the amount of stress they are experiencing:

Physical: headaches, grinding teeth, clenched jaws, chest pain, shortness of breath, pounding heart, high blood pressure, muscle aches, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea, increased perspiration, fatigue, insomnia, frequent illness.

Psychosocial: anxiety, irritability, sadness, defensiveness, anger, mood swings, hypersensitivity, apathy, depression, slowed thinking or racing thoughts; feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or of being trapped, lower motivation.

Cognitive: decreased attention, narrowing of perception, forgetfulness, less effective thinking, less problem solving, reduced ability to learn; easily distracted.

Behavioural: overeating or loss of appetite, impatience, quickness to argue, procrastination, increased use of alcohol or drugs, increased smoking, withdrawal or isolation from others, neglect of responsibility, poor job performance, poor personal hygiene, change in religious practices, change in close family relationships.

Below is a quiz from the Canadian Mental Health Association of Ontario you can take to help identify your stress levels:

DO YOU FREQUENTLY:  YES   NO 
Neglect your diet?    
Try to do everything yourself?    
Blow up easily?    
Seek unrealistic goals?    
Fail to see the humour in situations others find funny?    
Act rude?    
Make a 'big deal' of everything?    
Look to other people to make things happen?    
Have difficulty making decisions    
Complain you are disorganized?      
Avoid people whose ideas are different from your own?      
Keep everything inside?      
Neglect exercise?      
Have few supportive relationships?      
Use sleeping pills and tranquilizers without a doctor's approval?      
Get too little rest?      
Get angry when you are kept waiting?      
Ignore stress symptoms?      
Put things off until later?      
Think there is only one right way to do something?      
Fail to build relaxation time into your day?      
Gossip?      
Race through the day?      
Spend a lot of time complaining about the past?      
Fail to get a break from noise and crowds?      

 

0-5:  There are few hassles in your life.  Make sure though, that you are not trying to deliberately avoid problems.

6-10: You've got your life in fairly good control.  Work on the choices and habits that could still be causing you some unnecessary stress in your life.

11-15: You are approaching the danger zone.  You may be suffering stress-related symptoms and your relationships could be strained.  Think carefully about choices you've made and take relaxation breaks every day.

16-25: Emergency!  It is critical that you stop and re-think how you are living; change your attitudes and pay careful attention to diet, exercise and relaxation.


Do all of these signs or symptoms happen all at once and what level of help should be sought?

No, not normally. The signs and symptoms from stress tend to progress through several phases or stages. The phases can be described as below:

Phase Signs/Symptoms Action
Phase 1 - Warning 
Early warning signs are often more emotional than physical and may take a year or more before they are noticeable.
  • feelings of vague anxiety
  • depression
  • boredom
  • apathy
  • emotional fatigue
  • talking about feelings
  • taking a vacation
  • making a change from regular activities
  • taking time for yourself
Phase 2 - Mild Symptoms
Warning signs have progressed and intensified. Over a period of 6 to 18 months, physical signs may also be evident.
  • sleep disturbances
  • more frequent headaches/colds
  • muscle aches
  • intensified physical and emotional fatigue
  • withdrawal from contact with others
  • irritability
  • intensified depression
  • more aggressive lifestyle changes may be needed.
  • short-term counseling
Phase 3 - Entrenched Cumulative Stress
This phase occurs when the above phases continue to be ignored. Stress starts to create a deeper impact on career, family life and personal well-being.
  • increased use of alcohol, smoking, non-prescription drugs
  • depression
  • physical and emotional fatigue
  • loss of sex drive
  • ulcers
  • marital discord
  • crying spells
  • intense anxiety
  • rigid thinking
  • withdrawal
  • restlessness
  • sleeplessness
The help of medical and psychological professionals is highly recommended.
Phase 4 - Severe/ Debilitating Cumulative Stress Reaction
This phase is often considered "self-destructive" and tends to occur after 5 to10 years of continued stress.
  • careers end prematurely
  • asthma
  • heart conditions
  • severe depression
  • lowered self-esteem/self-confidence
  • inability to perform one's job
  • inability to manage personal life
  • withdrawal
  • uncontrolled anger, grief, rage
  • suicidal or homicidal thinking
  • muscle tremors
  • extreme chronic fatigue
  • over-reaction to minor events
  • agitation
  • frequent accidents
  • carelessness, forgetfulness
  • paranoia
Significant intervention from professionals.

From: Anschuetz, B.L. "The High Cost of Caring: Coping with Workplace Stress" in Sharing: Epilepsy Ontario. Posted 29 November 1999.


What are some general tips for dealing with stress at the workplace?

Since the causes of workplace stress vary greatly, so do the strategies to reduce or prevent it.

Where stress in the workplace is caused, for example, by a physical agent, it is best to control it at its source. If the workplace is too loud, control measures to deal with the noise should be implemented where ever possible. If you are experiencing pain from repetitive strain, workstations can be re-designed to reduce repetitive and strenuous movements. More detailed information and suggestions are located in the many other documents in OSH Answers (such as noiseergonomics, or violence in the workplace, etc.) or by asking theInquiries Service.

Job design is also an important factor. Good job design accommodates an employee's mental and physical abilities. In general, the following job design guidelines will help minimize or control workplace stress:

  • the job should be reasonably demanding (but not based on "sheer endurance") and provide the employee with at least a minimum of variety in job tasks
  • the employee should be able to learn on the job and be allowed to continue to learn as their career progresses
  • the job should comprise some area of decision-making that the individual can call his or her own.
  • there should be some degree of social support and recognition in the workplace
  • the employee should feel that the job leads to some sort of desirable future


What can the employer do to help?

Employers should assess the workplace for the risk of stress. Look for pressures at work which could cause high and long lasting levels of stress, and who may be harmed by these pressures. Determine what can be done to prevent the pressures from becoming negative stressors.

Employers can address stress in many ways.

DO

  • Treat all employees in a fair and respectful manner.
  • Take stress seriously and be understanding to staff under too much pressure.
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms that a person may be having trouble coping with stress.
  • Involve employees in decision-making and allow for their input directly or through committees, etc.
  • Encourage managers to have an understanding attitude and to be proactive by looking for signs of stress among their staff.
  • Provide workplace health and wellness programs that target the true source of the stress. The source of stress at work can be from any number of causes – safety, ergonomics, job demands, etc. Survey the employees and ask them for help identifying the actual cause.  
  • Incorporate stress prevention or positive mental health promotion in policies or your corporate mission statement.
  • Make sure staff have the training, skills and resources they need.
  • Design jobs to allow for a balanced workload. Allow employees to have control over the tasks they do as much as possible.
  • Value and recognize individuals' results and skills.
  • Provide support. Be clear about job expectations.
  • Keep job demands reasonable by providing manageable deadlines, hours of work, and clear duties as well as work that is interesting and varied.
  • Provide access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for those who wish to attend.

DO NOT

  • Do not tolerate bullying or harassment in any form.
  • Do not ignore signs that employees are under pressure or feeling stressed.
  • Do not forget that elements of the workplace itself can be a cause of stress. Stress management training and counselling services can be helpful to individuals, but do not forget to look for the root cause of the stress and to address them as quickly as possible.


Is there anything I can do to help myself deal with the stress I am experiencing at work?

In many cases, the origin of the stress is something that cannot be changed immediately. Therefore, finding ways to help maintain good mental health is essential. There are many ways to be proactive in dealing with stress. In the workplace, you might try some of the following as suggested by the Canadian Mental Health Association:

Learn to relax, take several deep breaths throughout the day, or have regular stretch breaks. Stretching is simple enough to do anywhere and only takes a few seconds.

Take charge of your situation by taking 10 minutes at the beginning of each day to priorize and organize your day. Be honest with your colleagues, but be constructive and make practical suggestions. Be realistic about what you can change.

From: Canadian Mental Health Association, "Sources of Workplace Stress" Richmond, British Columbia.


Are there any organization that can help?*

Yes, STRIDE Home Care Physiotherapy Pvt.Ltd. 



What else can I do to improve my overall mental health?

Good mental health helps us to achieve balance and cope with stressful times.

Ten general tips for mental health
1. build confidence identify your abilities and weaknesses together, accept them build on them and do the best with what you have
2. eat right, keep fit a balanced diet, exercise and rest can help you to reduce stress and enjoy life.
3. make time for family and friends these relationships need to be nurtured; if taken for granted they will not be there to share life's joys and sorrows.
4. give and accept support friends and family relationships thrive when they are "put to the test"
5. create a meaningful budget financial problems cause stress. Over-spending on our "wants" instead of our "needs" is often the culprit.
6. volunteer being involved in community gives a sense of purpose and satisfaction that paid work cannot.
7. manage stress we all have stressors in our lives but learning how to deal with them when they threaten to overwhelm us will maintain our mental health.
8. find strength in numbers sharing a problem with others have had similar experiences may help you find a solution and will make you feel less isolated.
9. identify and deal with moods we all need to find safe and constructive ways to express our feelings of anger, sadness, joy and fear.
10. learn to be at peace with yourself get to know who you are, what makes you really happy, and learn to balance what you can and cannot change about yourself.

 

Other mental fitness tips include:

  • Give yourself permission to take a break from your worries and concerns. Recognize that dedicating even a short time every day to your mental fitness will reap significant benefits in terms of feeling rejuvenated and more confident.
  • "Collect" positive emotional moments - Make a point of recalling times when you have experienced pleasure, comfort, tenderness, confidence or other positive things.
  • Do one thing at a time - Be "present" in the moment, whether out for a walk or spending time with friends, turn off your cell phone and your mental "to do" list.
  • Enjoy hobbies - Hobbies can bring balance to your life by allowing you to do something you enjoy because you want to do it.
  • Set personal goals - Goals don't have to be ambitious. They could be as simple as finishing a book, walking around the block every day, learning to play bridge, or callingyour friends instead of waiting by the phone. Whatever goal you set, reaching it will build confidence and a sense of satisfaction.
  • Express yourself - Whether in a journal or talking to a wall, expressing yourself after a stressful day can help you gain perspective, release tension, and boost your body's resistance to illness.
  • Laugh - Laughter often really is the best medicine. Even better is sharing something that makes you smile or laugh with someone you know.
  • Treat yourself well - Take some "you" time - whether it's cooking a good meal, having a bubble bath or seeing a movie, do something that brings you joy.

 

How Fit Are You and Your Family?


 

4 Fitness Tests You Can Do at your Home

 

Do-It-Yourself Fitness Assessments


 

Why do you exercise? Whether you want to increase your energy, reduce your health risks, or lose some unwanted pounds, do you ever wonder if all that working out is working for you? That's where fitness assessments come in, and they can be great motivational tools to help you reach your goals.

Measuring your fitness level regularly is one way to find out if you're making progress. Most fitness centers have trained staff who can evaluate your body composition, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance, but it can be pricey. If you don’t have access to all the toys and tools of your gym, don’t panic. You have everything you need to measure your fitness level in your own house.

Start with the simple assessments below, whether you plan to start an exercise program tomorrow or you've been at it for a while.

The Pushup Test (measures muscular strength and endurance)


The Crunch Test (measures abdominal strength and endurance)


The 3-Minute Step Test (measures aerobic fitness)


The 1-Mile Walk Test (measures aerobic fitness)


These tests are great tools to see how you are doing. When you're done testing, you can track your scores on SparkPeople to keep track of your progress! If you don’t score as well as you like, just remember to focus on improving your own scores periodically. As long as you are improving, your fitness plan is working. If you find you aren’t making the progress that you feel you should be seeing, it may be time to change your workout routine.


1)The PushUp Test-

The Push-Up Test measures muscular strength and endurance, a combination that better reflects your fitness level than strength tests like the one rep max. Besides being dangerous, single rep max tests also require a lot of equipment (bench press or squat rack, barbells, and other weights). A timed push-up test, on the other hand, can be done anywhere.

Equipment needed: A stop watch or timer that can measure one full minute; a friend to help keep count and time you (optional).

Goal: Do as many push ups as you can in one minute.

Execution: Men will assume a traditional push-up position and females can use the modified push-up position (on knees). When the push ups start, so does the clock! Press yourself up with arms fully extended and lower yourself back until your chest is three inches from the floor (but do not touch your body to the floor). Repeat as many times as you can in one minute. You may rest only in the “up” position if necessary.

What this measures: Strength and endurance in your chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Scoring: Here are the age-adjusted standards based on guidelines published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):

Ratings for Men (Full Push Ups), based on Age

 Age                  

 20-29

 30-39

 40-49

 50-59

 60+

 Excellent

 > 54

 > 44

> 39

> 34

 > 29

 Good

 45-54

 35-44

 30-39

 25-34

 20-29

 Average

 35-44

 24-34

 20-29

 15-24

 10-19

 Poor

 20-34

 15-24

 12-19

 8-14

 5-9

 Very Poor

 < 20

 < 15

 < 12

 < 8

 < 5

 

 

Ratings for Women (Modified Push Ups), based on Age

 Age                  

20-29

30-39

40-49

50-59

60+

Excellent

>48

>39

>34

>29

>19

Good

34-48

25-39

20-34

15-29

5-19

Average

17-33

12-24

8-19

6-14

3-4

Poor

6-16

4-11

3-7

2-5

1-2

Very Poor

< 6

< 4

< 3

< 2

< 1


Maybe you’ll find that you’re doing really well. But even if you weren't able to do enough reps to register on the chart, that's OK. Everyone starts somewhere! Just try to improve gradually over time from where you started. Remember, you are looking for improvement in yourself, regardless of what a chart says or how many repetitions someone else can do.

How to improve: To improve your scores in this test, focus on strength training the specific muscles of the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Good exercises that target these muscles include:


2) The Crunch Test-

 

Measuring your fitness level regularly is one way to find out if you're making progress. Most fitness centers have trained staff who can evaluate your body composition, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance, but it can be pricey. If you don’t have access to all the toys and tools of your gym, don’t panic. You have everything you need to measure your fitness level in your own house!

The Crunch Test, technically referred to as the "partial curl-up" test, measures abdominal strength and endurance, a combination that more truly reflects your fitness level than strength tests alone. This test is a better choice over the standard sit-ups because crunches are safer for the lower back and target the abs better. A timed crunch test can also be done anywhere.

Equipment needed: A stop watch or timer that can measure one full minute; a ruler; a friend to help keep count and time you (optional).

Goal: Do as many crunches as you can in one minute.

Execution: Although this test involves regular crunches, it has some specific guidelines. Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and your heels about 18 inches away from your behind. Place your arms at your sides, palms down, fingertips next to your hips. Place a ruler next to your fingertips in this position and measure 6 inches further. You can put a piece of paper, the ruler itself, or a piece of tape at that 6-inch marker.

Keep your hands on the floor throughout the test. Just like abdominal crunches, engage the abs to lift your head, neck, and shoulder blades off the floor, but allow your fingertips to slide toward the 6-inch marker. Return to the starting position to complete one rep. Repeat this as many times as you can in 60 seconds, counting only the number of repetitions that your fingertips successfully reach the 6-inch marker. You may rest in the starting position (relaxed), but the clock continues to run.

What this measures: Strength and endurance in your abdominals.

Scoring: Here are the age-adjusted standards based on guidelines published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):

Ratings for Men, Based on Age

 

Rating

< 35 years

35-44 years

> 45 years

Excellent

60

50

40

Good

45

40

25

Marginal

30

25

15

Needs Work

15

10

5

 

Ratings for Women, Based on Age

 

Rating

< 35 years

35-44 years

> 45 years

Excellent

50

40

30

Good

40

25

15

Marginal

25

15

10

Needs Work

10

6

4

 


Maybe you’ll find that you’re doing really well. But even if you weren't able to do enough reps to register on the chart, that's OK. Everyone starts somewhere! Just try to improve gradually over time from where you started. Remember, you are looking for improvement in yourself, regardless of what a chart says or how many repetitions someone else can do.

How to improve: To improve your scores on this test, choose strength exercises that focus on the core muscles of the abdominals and lower back. There are lots of variations of crunches that can help build strength and endurance in the abs. Good exercises that target these muscles include:

 

 

How to know its working: When you're done testing, you can track your score on SparkPeople to keep track of your progress! Over time, you should be able to do more crunches in subsequent assessments. Try to re-test yourself every 2-4 weeks.

This test is a great tool to see how you are doing. If you don’t score as well as you like, just remember to focus on improving your own scores periodically. As long as you are improving, your fitness plan is working. If you find you aren’t making the progress that you feel you should be seeing, it may be time to change your workout routine.


3)The 3 Minutes Step Test-


The 3-Minute Step Test measures youraerobic (cardiovascular) fitness level based on how quickly your heart rate returns to normal after exercise.

Equipment needed: Stopwatch or clock with a second hand; a friend to help you keep count; a 12-inch bench, box, or step; a metronome (if you don't have one, use the free online version at www.MetronomeOnline.com)

Goal: Step on and off the bench for 3 minutes straight while keeping a consistent pace and then see how quickly your heart rate will come back down.

Execution: This test is based on a 12-inch step, so use one as close to 12 inches as possible, otherwise your results will be skewed. Set the metronome to 96 beats per minute and make sure you can hear the beat. Stand facing the step. When ready to begin, start the clock or stopwatch and march up and down on the step to the metronome beat (up, up, down, down) for 3 consecutive minutes. (You can rest if you need to, but remain standing.) When 3 minutes are up, stop immediately, sit down on the step, and count (or have a friend count) your pulse (use your wrist or neck) for one full minute.

What this measures: This test assesses your fitness level based on how quickly your heart rate recovers after exercise. The fitter you are, the quicker your heart rate will return to normal after exercise.

Scoring: Here are the age-adjusted standards based on guidelines published by YMCA.

Ratings for Men, Based on Age

Age                   

18-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

56-65

65+

Excellent

50-76

51-76

49-76

56-82

60-77

59-81

Good

79-84

79-85

80-88

87-93

86-94

87-92

Above Average

88-93

88-94

92-88

95-101

97-100

94-102

Average

95-100

96-102

100-105

103-111

103-109

104-110

Below Average

102-107

104-110

108-113

113-119

111-117

114-118

Poor

111-119

114-121

116-124

121-126

119-128

121-126

Very Poor

124-157

126-161

130-163

131-159

131-154

130-151

             

Ratings for Women, Based on Age

 Age                  

18-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

56-65

65+

Excellent

52-81

58-80

51-84

63-91

60-92

70-92

Good

85-93

85-92

89-96

95-101

97-103

96-101

Above Average

96-102

95-101

100-104

104-110

106-111

104-111

Average

104-110

104-110

107-112

113-118

113-118

116-121

Below Average

113-120

113-119

115-120

120-124

119-127

123-126

Poor

122-131

122-129

124-132

126-132

129-135

128-133

Very Poor

135-169

134-171

137-169

137-171

141-174

135-155

Maybe you’ll find that you’re doing really well. But even if you weren't able to register on the chart, that's OK. Everyone starts somewhere! Just try to improve gradually over time from where you started. Remember, you are looking for improvement in yourself, regardless of what a chart says or how well someone else does.

How to improve: To improve your scores on this test, develop a regular cardio (aerobic) exercise routine and stick to it. Increase your intensity and duration gradually and you'll boost your endurance over time. Use the SparkPeople resources below for more tips to improve your aerobic fitness.

How to know its working: When you're done testing, you can track your results on SparkPeople to keep track of your progress! Over time, you should be able to recover from exercise more quickly. Keep in mind that if you're on any type of medication that affects your heart rate, this test might not be very accurate for you.

This test is a great tool to see how you are doing. If you don’t score as well as you like, just remember to focus on improving your own scores periodically. As long as you are improving, your fitness plan is working. If you find you aren’t making the progress that you feel you should be seeing, it may be time to change your workout routine.


4) The 1 Mile Walking Test-


 

This 1-Mile Walking Test measures your aerobic (cardiovascular) fitness level based on how quickly you are able to walk a mile at a submaximal (moderate) exercise intensity.

Equipment Needed: Comfortable clothing and sturdy walking or running shoes; a stopwatch or a clock with a second hand; a flat one-mile walking surface, such as a standard quarter-mile track (four laps equals one mile) or a flat road where you've measured the one-mile distance with your car's odometer.

Goal: Walk one mile as quickly as possible.


Execution: We suggest that you DO NOT attempt this test until you are routinely walking for 15 to 20 minutes several times per week. Do not perform this test on a treadmill, as it will skew your results. Warm up by walking slowly for 3-5 minutes. When you are ready to begin, start the clock and begin walking as fast as you can while maintaining a steady pace. You can slow down and speed up as you wish, but the goal is to complete the mile as quickly as possible. Stop your watch or check your time at the end of the mile to the nearest second. When finished, keep walking for a few minutes to cool down. Follow up with a few stretches.

 

Scoring: Here are the age-adjusted standards (listed in minutes and seconds) for men and women, which are based on information collected from the Cooper Institute, American Council on Exercise and other sources.


Ratings for Men, Based on Age

Age

20-29

30-39

40-49

50-59

60-69

70+

Excellent

<11:54

<12:24

<12:54

<13:24

<14:06

<15:06

Good

11:54-13:00

12:24-13:30

12:54-14:00

13:24-14:24

14:06-15:12

15:06-15:48

Average

13:01-13:42

13:31-14:12

14:01-14:42

14:25-15:12

15:13-16:18

15:49-18:48

Fair

13:43-14:30

14:13-15:00

14:43-15:30

15:13-16:30

16:19-17:18

18:49-20:18

Poor

>14:30

>15:00

>15:30

>16:30

>17:18

 

Ratings for Women, Based on Age

 

Age

20-29

30-39

40-49

50-59

60-69

70+

Excellent

<13:12

<13:42

<14:12

<14:42

<15:06

<18:18

Good

13:12-14:06

13:42-14:36

14:12-15:06

14:42-15:36

15:06-16:18

18:18-20:00

Average

14:07-15:06

14:37-15:36

15:07-16:06

15:37-17:00

16:19-17:30

20:01-21:48

Fair

15:07-16:30

15:37-17:00

16:07-17:30

17:01-18:06

17:31-19:12

21:49-24:06

Poor

>16:30

>17:00

>17:30

>18:06

>19:12

>24:06



Maybe you’ll find that you’re doing really well. But even if you weren't able to register on the chart, that's OK. Everyone starts somewhere! Just try to improve gradually over time from where you started. Remember, you are looking for improvement in yourself, regardless of what a chart says or how well someone else does.

How to improve: To improve your scores on this test, develop a regular cardio (aerobic) exercise routine and stick to it. Increase your intensity and duration gradually and you'll boost your endurance over time. Use the SparkPeople resources below for more tips to improve your aerobic fitness.

This will build a good aerobic base and over time, your heart will become more efficient which means that it will be able to do the same amount of work without working as hard. If your exercise of choice is walking, think about incorporating a little bit of higher intensity intervals, such as hills or light jogging.

How to know its working: When you're done testing, you can track your results on SparkPeople to keep track of your progress! Over time, you should be able to walk faster without getting as tired. Retest yourself at least twice a year.

This test is a great tool to see how you are doing. If you don’t score as well as you like, just remember to focus on improving your own scores periodically. As long as you are improving, your fitness plan is working. If you find you aren’t making the progress that you feel you should be seeing, it may be time to change your workout routine.



 

 

 

 

How strong are you?


“When we are talking about strength, especially as it relates to aging, we want women able to do the things that they want to do—take their own groceries from the back of the car, give their dog a bath, or play with their grandkids,” Kettles says. “All of that requires certain functions and movements that require core and upper body strength.”

In addition, a strong lower body can help prevent the falls that cause fractures. “It’s easier to catch yourself if you trip or stumble,” Kettle says. “This is absolutely critical for women [in their 40s, 50s and 60s] because if you don’t trip or fall then you typically won’t fracture.”



 

TEST YOUR CORE STRENGTH- (Picture is shown below)

 

Image description

Hold a plank: With a watch placed in front of you, get on all fours on the floor with your palms and forearms on the floor with elbows placed directly under your shoulders. Extend your legs and flex your feet so your toes touch the floor. Keeping your abs tight and your back flat, your bodyweight is supported on your forearms and toes. Your body should create a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Hold this position until you no longer can.

How did you do?

Age 40-49: 

  • poor: under a minute
  • fair: 1 minute
  • average: 90 seconds
  • very good: 2 minutes
  • excellent: 3+ minutes

Age 50-59: 

  • poor: under 45 seconds
  • fair: 45 seconds
  • average: 1 minute
  • very good: 90 seconds
  • excellent: 2+ minutes

Age 60-69: 

  • poor: under 30 seconds
  • fair: 30 seconds
  • average: 45 seconds
  • very good: 1 minutes
  • excellent: 1.5+ minutes

 

 

Test your upper body strength-(Picture is shown below)

 

Image description

Use this push-up test from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). On your toes, start in the down position with your back straight, hands shoulder width apart, and head up so your chin is close to the floor. Raise your body up extending your elbows, then lower yourself down to the start position. This is one push-up. Continue until your form wavers for two reps or you start to strain to complete a rep. The number of push-ups you do consecutively without rest is your score.


How did you do?

Age 40-49: 

  • poor: 4
  • fair: 5-10
  • average: 11-14
  • very good: 15-23
  • excellent: 24

Age 50-59: 

  • poor: 1
  • fair: 2-6
  • average: 7-10
  • very good: 11-20
  • excellent: 21

Age 60-69: 

  • poor: 1
  • fair: 2-4
  • average: 5-11
  • very good: 12-16
  • excellent: 17

 

 

Test your lower body strength-(Picture is shown below)

 

Image description

Stand against a wall, with your legs extended out. Your feet should be about 2 feet away from the wall. Bend your knees to slide your back down the wall until you come to the sitting position, where your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold the position for as long as you can. Reverse the motion to return to start.

How did you do?

Age 40-49: 

  • poor: <9 seconds
  • fair: 10-18 seconds
  • average: 19-26 seconds
  • very good: 27-33 seconds
  • excellent: >33 seconds

Age 50-59: 

  • poor: <6 seconds
  • fair: 7-13 seconds
  • average: 14-17 seconds
  • very good: 18-24 seconds
  • excellent: >24 seconds

Age 60-69: 

  • poor: <4 seconds
  • fair: 5-11 seconds
  • average: 12-16 seconds
  • very good: 17-23 seconds
  • excellent: >23 seconds

 

 

How flexible are you?

“Things that you could do before, like reaching up to the top shelf, get harder because you can’t stretch out as much,” Kettle says. “All of our tendons and muscles dehydrate a little as we get older so they become stiffer.” Not to mention, not being flexible puts you at an increase risk of injury. “It is more for function and injury prevention.”

 

Image description

Test your flexibility-(Picture is shown above)


Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Stretch your arms out and reach toward your toes. Bend your knees until you are touching your toes, if needed.

How did you do?

Poor: Knees are completely bent with heels close to buttocks.
Fair:  Knees are bent in a wide “V” position; heels several inches away from buttocks.
Average: Knees are slightly bent; heels are far away from buttocks.
Very Good: Knees have a soft bend, nearly straight.
Excellent: Knees are straight.

Improve: The thing about flexibility is that you may never be able to touch your toes—you might not be built to do so—but as long as you’re stretching, you’re going to see results. “You don’t have to do an hour of yoga, you can do 2-3 minutes of stretching a couple times of week to see a change in your reach,” Kettle says. As long as you’re feeling a bit of tension, you’re reaping the benefits, which include increases in strength and range of motion.