How do you measure your fitness level?

Am I fit enough? Whether it’s a daily question, one we ponder before visiting with the doctor, or one we guiltily think before grabbing another cookie, this is a question many of us ask ourselves. Unfortunately, there’s not a simple answer, but Physiquality’s physical therapy professionals have some useful insights.

“How people measure their health and fitness depends on the person,” says Angela Manzanares, the creator of the fitbook™, a Physiquality partner. She warns against using numbers like BMI, or the body mass index, on their own, as they only take into account a person’s height and weight, not body composition. It’s possible to have low body fat and high muscle mass, and therefore a higher weight, Angela explains, which could categorize someone as overweight or obese when it’s really not the case.

It’s better to look at a variety of tests and think about both health and fitness, rather than simply your BMI or the number on your scale. Joy Winchester, HFS, from the Take Charge Fitness Program, a wellness facility run by Clinton Physical Therapy Center (a Physiquality network member in Clinton, Tennessee), recommends using a site like to test your fitness. The website has a variety of challenges that can be done at home to test your endurance, including one-minute push-up and crunch tests, a three-minute step test and a one-mile walk test. Each of the tests is simple to execute and requires little more than a stopwatch for timing, and maybe a friend to help keep count (or to keep you honest!). The site charts results by age and gender, ranging from “very poor” to “excellent,” giving you an idea of how your endurance ranks against others your own age.  See more

What is a MET?

Q:  While working out on your favorite cardio machine, you notice the screen displays a number for “METs”.  What is a MET and how does it relate to your exercise?”

A: A MET, or metabolic equivalent, is a tool used to define the intensity of any physical activity. 3 METS or less is categorized as light intensity.  Light activities can include making the bed, sitting at a desk, or walking less than 3 mph.  Moderate intensity ranges from 3-6 METS.  Washing the car, walking 3-4 mph, or ballroom dancing can all be considered as moderate activities.  Vigorous intensity is anything above 6 METS.  These activites would be very brisk walking or jogging, playing a basketball game, or swimming laps.  Because heart rate can vary due to a person’s age and/or physical condition, METS are a more convenient way to monitor exercise intensity.  Next time you are exercising on a piece of cardio equipment, check your METS to see that you are at least in the moderate or vigorous categories to get the most benefit from your workout!