Do you remember the President’s Physical Fitness test we (some of us, anyway) used to take back in grade school? We had to do pull-ups, sit-ups, the mile run, the shuttle run and the sit and reach to prove we were physically fit. If you were able to do rank in the 85th percentile in these tests, you earned the National Fitness Award.
All of this was designed to measure our muscular strength, stamina, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance when we were at our fittest. Since it is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, I was thinking back to elementary school and how much I wanted to pass the tests and get that award. I think they even gave you a sew- on patch, remember this?
How did it get started? Back in the 1950’s it was found that American children were already lagging behind their European counterparts in physical fitness. The rot had already set in!
President Eisenhower was alarmed that kids in the USA were not the best, and more important, would not be ready for military service. In 1956, he founded the President’s Council on Youth Fitness and thus we started to get measured each school year from then on until 2012, to see whether we made the grade. Most of us fell in the middle, and some of us dreaded Physical Education because of these tests.
I had a love/hate relationship in this area. I loved the way I felt when I was running around, but I didn’t like being measured like a guinea pig. And when I think it was all constructed to make sure we were ready to battle, it makes my skin crawl.
However, I know it is important to stay physically fit, especially as we get older. Those of you that I have coached, know I share the value of maintaining our balance, flexibility, strength and stamina well into our senior years. It helps us maintain muscle mass, reduce sarcopenia (bone loss), reduce the risk of breaks from falling and helps us stay mobile, and grow old at home.
Those of you who join my walks share similar values and enjoy the added benefit of camaraderie and connection on the trail. Who wouldn’t want that?
How would we fare today, in our midlife and beyond, if we were tested in this way? Would we pass the test or fail miserably? Are we getting up and moving each and every day, maintaining our physical body and challenging our minds in this way?
I am in week four of a personal strength training challenge, which includes free weights, body weight and core-strengthening. I also throw in some exercises at the beginning and end for flexibility and balance.
And all of this takes 15 minutes tops! I do this three times per week and walk for 30 minutes to an hour on the other days. All of this takes me 2 and ¾ hours per week, which is really manageable time-wise.
Best of all, I already see results. My waist measurement has decreased 3” and my hips are 2” smaller. I feel better, more alert and stronger.
I just increased the weight slightly in the 3rd week and in week 5 I will increase it again. I also increased the repetitions, as well from 10 to 20 per exercise. If you are curious about this regimen, contact me and I will send you my regimen.
Remember this is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, a great time to get started on your fitness goals.