9 Fitness Challenges to Help You Become a Healthier Adult

Participants show their moxie during the ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’ event at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
Participants show their moxie during the ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’ event at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 2, 2018. (Airman 1st Class Ashley Perdue/U.S. Air Force photo)

If you are considering joining the military, you are required to meet a certain level of fitness and health. From meeting the height/weight and body fat standards, passing medical screenings and surpassing the fitness standards, military recruits should know what is required and prepare properly. But for the average American civilian, there seems to be no standard.

Here is a question that prompted a thought-out discussion topic we all need to have with ourselves:

Stew, I see what you recommend for future military and special ops members to be able to accomplish before joining. What standards would you like to see the average adult citizen meet fitness-wise? Thinking more from a general health, preparedness and competence view. Thanks, Nelson

Nelson, that's a great question. First, I advise starting with a medical checkup, complete with blood work, checking body weight, a body-fat test and mental health screening, to primarily focus on general health and wellness. Knowing these numbers and having a medically trained professional address the issues are the first steps to living longer and adding life to those years.

Second, if you do not use it, you lose it. Keep moving. There is no one answer to how you decide to continue moving throughout the day, but sitting for most of it is not the answer. You can walk, do manual labor (at work or home), exercise daily with all types of cardio options, lift weights, do calisthenics, dance, stretch and so much more. Just get moving and keep moving forever. Fitness and health are not a destination but a lifelong journey. We, as a country, severely lack this mindset. It needs to be added to most of our lives.

Third, once you have established Parts 1 and 2 of these recommendations, you can now progress with your activities to accomplish other goals, such as joining competitions in racing, lifting, gardening, dancing, and other fun and social activities. This third progression is a logical one that many people move toward and are motivated. However, this is not for everyone, and staying consistent with your activities from the second piece of advice is sufficient to take your fitness to a higher health and wellness level.

If you want some basic, yet challenging, goals, consider the following not-so-minimum standards to strive toward:

  • Run one mile without stopping.
  • Walk for an hour.
  • Do a pull-up.
  • Do 20 push-ups.
  • Hold a one-minute plank pose.
  • Deadlift or squat your body weight.
  • Swim or bike for 20 minutes as an easy cardio option.
  • Sit up from a chair without using your arms.
  • Do a toe touch, walking your hands into the push-up position; then in reverse order, walk your hands to the toe-touch position and stand upright again.

These are activities that most people in America (young and old) cannot do. Granted, some of these are tougher than others and are a product of moderate body weight and consistent activity. If we want a healthier country, start with these and see how you progress.

Now, the final segment is to assess whether you are an asset or not. Do you need to be helped in a survival situation, or can you assist your loved ones in such a case? Taking your training and mindset to this level is the final stage of building competence in life. Check out this article for what it takes to be at the level that places you in the asset category.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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