How to Evaluate your Physical Fitness for Mind-Body Fitness Programs - dummies

How to Evaluate your Physical Fitness for Mind-Body Fitness Programs

By Therese Iknoian

Many mind-body programs are so gentle that nearly anyone can do them without fear. But to be on the safe side — and that’s always a smart thing when it comes to movement — take a few moments to assess your current fitness and health using the questionnaire in the next section.

Assess your general fitness level

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, see a physician before starting a mind-body program, especially a program that raises your heart rate and puts any additional stress on your heart or other systems.

Even if the program doesn’t raise your heart rate, it may involve bending or twisting that may aggravate your blood pressure or any joint problems that you already have or may be inclined toward — also good reasons to be safe with a physician’s visit.

If you don’t answer “yes” to any of these questions, but if you are age 40 or older, or haven’t exercised regularly in a year or more, you should still see a physician to check on your overall health and to discuss any medical conditions that may run in your family.

If at any time an answer to one of the questions below changes to “yes” during your min-body program, you need to see your physician. Don’t let any of these warnings scare you off from movement! It simply makes good sense to see a physician once a year anyway.

  • Are you currently not exercising regularly?

  • Do you have a personal or family history of heart disease or chest pains, especially before age 50?

  • Do you smoke or have you been a smoker in the in the past two years?

  • Do you have any joint problems such as achiness or stiffness that get worse when you move in certain ways?

  • Do you have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar?

  • Are you taking any medications for any of the above conditions that may change the way your body responds to exercise?

  • Are you considered very overweight or obese?

  • Do you know of any other reason why you should not do physical activity?

Take count of your heart rate

Take a moment to measure your resting heart rate (that’s the speed at which your heart beats when you’re doing nothing, preferably taken first thing in the morning before any activity or caffeine) so you can track it as you begin a routine or activity.

Doing so can help you sense any abnormal spikes in your heart rate while you’re moving that may indicate a problem, and let you see whether your heart rate declines as you get fitter. (The latter maybe a good sign of your body’s fitness and health.)

This measurement may be especially important if you plan to combine any mind-body methods with traditional aerobic exercise because most mind-body methods don’t put a lot of emphasis on heart rate or its changes. This is more for your awareness and safety. You have a couple of options to test your resting heart rate:

  • If you have a wireless heart rate monitor, you can put that on first thing in the morning before you get up, drink coffee, or start thinking about stressful deadlines or other stuff that keys you up.

  • If you don’t have a wireless heart rate monitor, put your two middle fingers (not your thumb) either on the inside of your wrist, or beside your Adam’s apple. Relax and count beats for a minute for the most accurate reading. You can also count for less time and multiply to get the beats-per-minute reading.

Your resting heart rate is probably somewhere between 60 and 90 beats per minute — lower if you’re already fit or have a genetic tendency to have a lower heart rate, higher if you are less fit (or already stressing for some reason).