Mopani Pharmacy had a chat with three Biokineticists from Virgin Active at Crossing Centre, to determine what a fitness level is and why it is beneficial to know how fit you are. Our experts are: Van Zyl Wait, Hannelie Jurgens and Annamarie van Zyl.

Q: Why should you measure your fitness level?

A: Many can benefit from it as it offers points or rewards on their medical aids. However, for some, it is really just to “witness your fitness”.  This helps in establishing how fit you are and identifying where you may need to focus your efforts a bit more.

fitness level
Q: How do you measure a fitness level?

A: The two options differ slightly, but we cover four main components. We test your Cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, flexibility and body composition. We start by measuring your body composition, which is made up of your height, weight and waist size. This will give us the benchmark to test the rest on. The cardiovascular test will entail something like using the watt bike. Muscle strength can be tested with push-ups and hand grip tests. Flexibility is tested on your hamstrings, shoulders and lower-back.

Q: Can someone be considered fit if they do weight training only?

A: This is a debatable question. If someone is using heavy weights and low repetitions only, they will get strong and muscular but gain nothing else from it. If someone uses low weights and high repetitions, they will build muscle strength, and get their heart-rates up. In the end it will effect their body composition as the waistline and weight may improve. Therefore, lower weight use can really help your overall fitness.

Q: What is considered a healthy resting heartrate for male / female, child / adult / elder?

A: Children between 5 and 6, 75 -115 bpm (beats per minute), ages 7-9, 70-110 bmp. Someone that is 10 years and older should have a resting heartrate between 60 and 100bmp. It is however not uncommon for well trained athletes with a very healthy fitness level to have a resting heartrate as low as 40 bmp.

fitness level
Q: What is more important and why; getting your heart rate up, or the stamina to keep working out for longer?

A: If you can get your heart-rate up every day by doing physical activity, it trains your body to move oxygen and blood to your muscles more efficiently. Remember, your heart is a muscle that can be trained too. Eventually, it learns to push through more blood per beat – which allows for your resting heart rate to go down. Stamina refers to the ability to sustain the physical effort. The more blood and oxygen you can circulate, the better it will be for your stamina. If you have great stamina, you will be able to sustain the exercise and keep your heart rate up for longer. The two goes hand in hand in the end.

Q: What type of workout would you recommend for a couch potato with no fitness level to speak of?

A: Walking, biking and swimming are all great exercises for beginners. This does not involve learning any new skills for most people. They can do it comfortably without the body taking an absolute pounding. Walking is a very popular option to start building the fitness level for reformed couch potatoes!

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Q: How do I know if I’m “over doing” it – since some stiffness / muscle aches / crazy heartbeats are to be expected?

A: Exercise is supposed to make you feel good, it releases feel-good hormones and relieves stress. If you are exercising often, and find that you are not feeling your best, you might be hitting that “over doing it” phase. Symptoms may include: being unable to perform at the same level, needing longer periods of rest, exhaustion, feeling depressed or anxious, mood swings and irritability, trouble sleeping, sore muscles and heavy limbs, getting overuse injuries and getting ill due to a suppressed immune system.

Q: Settle the argument and why: Early morning exercise or evening?

A: Working out early in the morning can help increase your energy level in the afternoon. It also jumpstarts your metabolism, resulting in you burning more calories throughout the day, rather than your evening workouts. Exercising in the mornings have been linked to greater productivity, lower blood pressure and better sleep. However, in today’s busy world, you have to work your training session in where it suits your personality and lifestyle best – if you are not a morning person you might not give it your best. If you are only working out in the evenings or in the afternoons, it is still better than not working out at all.

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Q: Settle the argument and why – when do you eat: before, or after, and how long before or after your workout?

If you have no health issues, there is no problem if you do not eat before you exercise. Many people follow an intermitted fasting where the body is forced to tap into fat stores for energy during a workout which results in better weight-loss. It is however recommended that you consume a combination of carbs and protein as soon as possible after your workout. Many experts recommend eating within 45 minutes of your workout.

Read More: Benefits of added protein while you are exercising 

Q: Where can you measure your fitness level?

You can visit any registered Biokineticist to measure and assess your fitness level. You can visit us as well – you don’t have to be a gym member. Anyone can book an appointment with us.

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Q: Who pays for it and how much does it cost?

A: You pay it upfront but you can claim it back from your medical aid. There are two standard tests that we run for two major medical aids. The Discovery Vitality option costs about R445, and the Momentum Multiply option is around R385.


You can book your fitness level test with Van Zyl, Annamarie or Hannelie on 083 628 8824. Remember to check your score on your body mass index, glucose level, blood pressure and cholesterol at any Mopani Wellness Clinic to ensure you have a well-rounded wellness measurement. You can visit us without any prior appointment. If you have any questions please contact us on 013 755 5500.

Read more: Summer Wellness – Know your score, live the difference.