Wednesday 21 March 2018

Be well: Take our family fitness quiz

Ready to get the whole family fit? first, see how your crew measures up in these fun tests from Karl Henry

Fitness trainer Karl Henry. Photo: Damien Eagers
Fitness trainer Karl Henry. Photo: Damien Eagers
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In association with the Health Service Executive

Inspired by watching Ireland's Fittest Family on TV? Or trying to get your family fitter in the new year and eating fewer takeaways?

Well, no matter what your family's goal is, I thought I would bring you a column with a simple fitness and health quiz and also some easy and fun tests to try at home with your family. You can use these tests as an ongoing way to map your progress - remember, progress is an incredibly important tool to keep the whole family motivated because when you see progress or change, you are far more likely to stay healthy in the long run. Don't worry, I won't be emphasising winning or being the best, but it is really crucial to try these tests out (and have some fun with them too). Leading by example is always the way to go!

Let's start off with our fun Fitness Quiz: 20 simple questions to test the health of your family - the more 'yes' answers you get, the better...

1 Does your family get the recommended 180 minutes of exercise each week for adults and 60 minutes a day for children?

2 Do you cook the majority of your evening meals?

3 Does your family watch less than the average three hours and 28 minutes of TV per day?

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Stock image

4 Do you have a car-free day at least once a week?

5 Where possible, does each member of the family cook at least one meal for the family each week?

6 Have you done the Operation Transformation Ad Break Challenge?

7 Do your children do sports either in or out of school?

8 Does your family do a weekly food shop?

9 Do you eat your meals together as a family without phones or TV?

10 Do you exercise together as a family at least three times a month?

11 Do you all eat breakfast every morning?

12 Are your family a family of readers?

13 Do your children bring a packed lunch to school?

14 Do your children walk or cycle to school?

15 Can your family name all of the nutrition headings on the back of a food label and know what they mean?

16 Do the adults in your house consume less than the 11 standard drinks a week for women and the 17 standard drinks a week for men?

17 Do your family members sleep eight hours a night each?

18 Do you have a phone-free hour in your family's day?

19 Do you, as parents, lead by example in terms of healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle?

20 Do you have a treat-food night every now and again?

So, how did you fare? The questions above are really just a bit of fun, but answering 'yes' to as many of them as possible will, in my opinion, mean that your family is healthier as a unit. Maybe take the test now, and then again in a few weeks' time when you have implemented some of the changes that it highlights. Perhaps send it on to some of your friends who have families too, and prompt them to share the test to help others highlight their own health needs.

Okay, you have taken the quiz... now for the exercise! The following tests are simple and a bit of fun, really. There are charts that you can compare your numbers with but, when I work with families, I emphasise that it's the fun of doing the exercises that counts. So do 60 seconds of each exercise and do the best you can, record that number and take the test again in four weeks' time.

Press-up test

A normal push-up begins with the hands and toes touching the floor, the body and legs in a straight line, feet slightly apart, the arms at shoulder width apart, extended and at right angles to the body. Keeping the back and knees straight, simply lower your body until there is a 90-degree angle at the elbows, then return to the starting position with the arms extended. Simply do as many as you can for 60 seconds and record that number.

You can also do a knees-on-the-floor press-up. Kneel on the floor, hands on either side of the chest, and keep a straight line from shoulders to hips. Lower the chest towards the floor, either till your elbows are at right angles or your chest touches the ground, and then return to the top.

Sit-up test

Abdominal muscle strength and endurance are really important for core stability and back support too, especially if posture is something you struggle with. This sit-up test measures the strength and endurance of the abdominals and hip-flexor muscles. How many sit-ups can you complete in one minute?

Starting position: Lie on a carpeted or cushioned floor with your knees bent at approximately right angles, feet flat on the ground. Your hands should be resting on the front of your legs.

Technique: Squeeze your stomach, push your back flat and raise high enough for your hands to slide along the front of your legs to touch the tops of your knees. Keep your eyes looking up towards the ceiling, don't pull with your neck or head, and keep your lower back on the floor. Return to the starting position and keep going for 60 seconds.

Squat test

Now for one of my favourites: how many squats can you do in 60 seconds? Stand in front of a chair or bench with your feet at shoulder's width apart, facing away from it. Place your hands out in front of your body at shoulder level. Squat down and lightly touch the chair before standing back up. A good-sized chair is one that places your knees at right angles when you are sitting. Keep doing this as long as you can and, as always, write the number down afterwards.

Jump test

This test is designed to measure your explosive leg power and can be a great indication of progress. All you need is a high wall - such as the outside of a building - and a bit of room so you can jump and land safely.

Start by standing side-on to a wall and reach up as high as you can, with your hand closest to the wall. Make a note of how high you can reach. This is called the 'standing reach height'. Then stand a little away from the wall and jump as high as possible, using both arms and legs to assist in projecting your body upwards. Simply squat down and jump up as high as you can in the air, and touch the wall where you feel you are at the highest point of the jump.

Make a note of where you touched the wall at the height of the jump. Measure the distance between the standing reach height and the maximum jump height, and that is your result. You can keep trying these jumps for 60 seconds and simply record your best jump.

So, there you have it. As always, you need to ensure the tests are safe to undertake for yourself and your family, and if you have any doubts or concerns, then it is best not to do them. Safety is always so important when it comes to exercise - make sure to keep your family safe and sound.

Useful links...

Family health // Find more information, tips and resources to help improve your family's health and wellbeing at

Irish Independent

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