Fitness Self-Assessment

ACSM's Program for Balanced Fitness (Part Four)

Material adapted from ACSM's Complete Guide to Fitness & Health by the American College of Sports Medicine. (Copyright 2011 by Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.) Excerpted by permission of Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL.

Creating an exercise program is not difficult, but it requires some thought and planning. The first step is often the hardest. Develop an action plan by assessing where you are in your life and how you can find the motivation to move forward. Ask yourself these self-assessment questions:

  • What do I currently like about my body. What don't I like? What would I like to change?
  • What aspect of my body or my current health situation makes me unhappy, but could be positively affected by a regular exercise program?
  • What do I want to change and why?
  • Am I willing to give up my current routine to make that change?
  • Do I have the motivation to make that change?
  • What has been my previous experience with personal health behavior change? What worked? What didn't? How can reflecting on my previous experience help me this time?

Most likely, your wake-up call was realizing that lack of fitness prevents you from engaging fully in life activities. Consider the following examples:

Aerobic Fitness

  • Do you find yourself breathless going up a short flight of stairs?
  • Do you avoid social or recreational situations that may involve physical activity?
  • Are you unable to keep up with peers in sport competitions or recreational activities?

Muscular Fitness

  • Are you unable to lift a bag of groceries from your vehicle?
  • Do you struggle to hold your child or grandchild?
  • Are you limited in your recreational pursuits by a lack of strength?


  • Are you unable to reach over your shoulder to fasten a zipper?
  • Do you find it difficult to look behind you to check for traffic when driving?
  • Do you have to modify your movements (e.g., a golf swing) to compensate for limited joint mobility?

Body Composition

  • Are your clothes tighter than they were last year?
  • Do you feel unhappy with your appearance because of weight gain?
  • Does added body fat limit your enjoyment of recreational activities such as jogging or cycling?

Click here for ACSM's Program for Balanced Fitness (Part Five): Setting Goals and Sticking With It.

Last Modified Date: January 13, 2014

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by Brenda Bell
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