ADVICE

Quiz: how fit are you really?

Woman shrugging

Sometimes it’s hard to remember all the advice about exercising enough and leading a healthy lifestyle. Take time out to do our fun quiz and discover which areas of your life need a bit more work, and the changes you need to make that’ll leave you feeling fantastic.

Note down an A, B or C for each question, then head to the bottom of the page to see how you did.

Section one

These questions test your knowledge of key fitness facts. After all, how can you set goals if you don’t know what they should be?

1. How many minutes of exercise is it recommended we do each week for good health?

A 30
B 90
C 150

2. How far do you need to walk each day to improve your survival rate of certain cancers?

A 5 kilometres/3 miles
B 8 kilometres/5 miles
C 1.5 kilometre/1 mile

Section two

Now let’s assess your current fitness. Don’t choose the answer you think you should, but the one that’s true for you right now.

7. What’s your BMI? (Use our online tool to check)

A Below 18.5
B 18.5–24.9
C 25+

8. How many minutes a week do you spend doing moderate-intensity exercise (ie, something that leaves you at least slightly out of breath and sweating?)

A Less than 30
B 30–150
C 150+

9. How active is your typical day?

A I spend most of it sitting at a desk, on the sofa or travelling in a car
B I work in an office but try to find time to exercise
C I have an active job and/or make exercise part of my daily routine

10. Which of the following best describes your attitude to being active?

A I’m a couch potato and proud of it!
B I love being active – exercise energises me
C I’m not into sports or going to the gym, but I try to keep active in other ways

11. How many times a week do you do resistance training?

A What’s resistance training?
B Once
C Twice or more

2. What does your waist measure?

A Under 80cm/31.5in (women); under 94cm/37in (men)
B 80–87cm/31.5–34in (women); 94–101cm/37–39.5in (men)
C Over 88cm/34.5in (women); 102cm/40in (men)

Section one answers

1. A 0 B 0 C 2
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends we do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week to stay healthy – that’s any activity that gets us slightly puffed. Two out of three adults don’t manage this, so if you do, well done! ‘It doesn’t have to be all at once,’ says Steve Ward, executive director of ukactive. ‘Half an hour five days a week is a good start – or if that’s a challenge, break it down into 10-minute chunks and build on it.’

2. A 0 B 0 C 2
Research by Walking for Health, run by Macmillan Cancer Support and the Ramblers, found walking 1.5km/1 mile a day at a at a brisk pace (should take around 20 minutes), reduced the risk of dying by 40 per cent for breast cancer patients and 30 per cent for prostate cancer patients. ‘Physical activity is a “wonder drug”,’ says Macmillan Cancer Support. Find out more at macmillan.org.uk.

3. A 2 B 0 C 0
‘Cardio exercise is any activity that improves your aerobic capacity – in other words, it boosts your heart and lung power,’ says Steve. ‘Anything counts as we’re always using our cardiovascular system, but to give yours a purposeful workout you need to get out of breath and sweaty. Think cycling, brisk walking, running, aerobics, dancing… there’s plenty to choose from.’

4. A 0 B 2 C 0
‘Any activity that puts your muscles under resistance so they’re pushing or pulling counts,’ says personal trainer Ian Mellis. WHO recommends we do at least two resistance training sessions a week. This doesn’t have to mean weightlifting – you could try a circuit training or toning class, or download these bodyweight exercises.

5. A 2 B 2 C 2
Points for every answer here – they all burn around 300 calories! ‘The amount of calories you burn depends on your size, age and gender,’ says HFG nutritionist Juliette Kellow. ‘Obviously, how hard you work plays a part, too. To lose weight at a healthy rate of 1–2lb/0.5-1kg a week, you need to cut out or burn 500 calories a day, so combine exercise with swapping out your afternoon biscuit for a veggie snack.’

6. A 0 B 0 C 2
The average person walks 3,000–4,000 steps a day, but research shows that 10,000 steps a day will improve health – though more is good, too! Ten minutes of brisk walking clocks up about 1,000 steps, so getting off the bus two stops early or switching short car journeys for walks are easy ways to meet your goal. Or check out local walking groups for like-minded people near you.

Section two answers

7. A 0 B 2 C 0
‘BMI stands for body mass index and gauges if you’re the right weight for your height,’ says Dr Dawn Harper. ‘Below 18.5 is underweight, 18.5 to 24.9 is healthy, 25 to 29.9 is overweight and 30+ is obese. A high BMI increases your risk of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. While some people (such as athletes with a high muscle mass) may have a high BMI but be a healthy size, BMI is a good indicator for most of us. If yours is outside the healthy range, see your GP.

8. A 0 B 1 C 2
As we learned in answer 1, WHO guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise – but if we can double this to 300 minutes we’ll see even greater health gains. It’s good to do some vigorous activity, too. ‘Studies show we’re more likely to stick with exercise if we schedule it, so mark your sessions on your calendar,’ says Steve.

9. A 0 B 1 C 2
‘Being sedentary is one of the biggest dangers to our health – but it seems to be the modern way,’ says Dawn. When scientists analysed 18 existing studies on the subject, they concluded that sitting still for long periods (as so many of us do) increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease and can even lead to an early death. Technology can be a major contributor to our inactivity, but it can also help us to get active, tracking our movement throughout the day and motivating us to do more.

10. A 0 B 2 C 1
We’d all like to be that person who leaps out of bed at dawn and goes for a run, just for the love of it. Sadly, most of us are more likely to choose a bit more kip. ‘There are a few factors that we know help people to stick to an exercise programme and benefit from it,’ says Steve. ‘Make it easy: choose a location on your route to or from work; involve friends or revisit a sport you used to love playing; and schedule regular sessions. The more active you are, the more active you’ll want to be.’

11. A 0 B 1 C 2
Well done if you’re doing two or more strength-training sessions a week – that’s what WHO recommends. ‘Anything you can do, from using the machines at the gym to simple exercises at home, will help you to look and feel slimmer and fitter, and protect your skeleton,’ says Ian.

12. A 2 B 0 C 0
People who carry too much weight around the waist are at greater risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. For women, a measurement of more than 80cm/31.5in is considered risky (94cm/37in for men); and more than 88cm/34.5in is high risk (102cm/40in for men).

How did you do?

7 or below Are you sitting comfortably? Yes, we thought so… But it’s time to stand up and get moving! Your sedentary lifestyle and lack of knowledge about exercise are putting your health at risk. Start small: commit to going for a brisk 10-minute walk every day this week. Next week, walk a bit further, and so on. You’ll soon feel the benefits and enjoy being more active.

8–18 You’re pretty clued up about what you should be doing and why – but you aren’t always hitting the fitness targets you set. Work out what it is you like about exercising and what you find hard. Once you’ve figured out what motivates you, fitting fitness into your life will be a breeze.

19 or above You’re either super fit or well informed and managing to put a lot of your knowledge into practice. Our bodies adapt quickly to an exercise regime, so to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workout see: How often do you need to exercise to get in shape?

First published: Nov 2021

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