Your current fitness level

It is important to consider your current fitness level before you begin designing your exercise plan. Having this information will help you choose a more accurate and realistic goal for yourself, and, in fact, will influence the entire makeup of your program.

There are numerous ways to test your aerobic fitness, ranging from sophisticated lab tests to simple field tests. All are designed to measure or predict maximal oxygen uptake. The easiest way to test your own fitness level is the Polar Fitness Test™.

You can perform the Polar Fitness Test easily and reliably in the privacy of your own home. All you need is your Polar Heart Rate Monitor with Fitness Test feature and five, short minutes to get a measure of your current fitness level. It is a safe test, even if you are unfit, as it does not require any physical exertion whatsoever. In fact, you should perform the test at complete rest. The test is based on several variables (heart rate, heart rate variability, age, body weight, gender and level of physical activity).

The result of the Polar Fitness Test is OwnIndex. This is a value that is comparable to your maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), a commonly used descriptor of aerobic fitness. OwnIndex rises as you get fitter, and can range from about 25 for sedentary or unfit persons to 95, a level reached by some Olympic-level endurance athletes.

Progress in your OwnIndex will gradually occur over time. Testing yourself once a month will give you a good picture of these changes, making the OwnIndex an excellent yardstick to track the way your aerobic fitness is improving.