Kate Powers

What it measures: Flexibility of the hamstrings and the lower back.

Why it's important: Tight hamstrings lead to hamstring strains and lower-back pain―"two of the most common injuries that middle-aged people experience," says Bryant. Tight hamstrings may also interfere with healthy posture, by causing your pelvis to tilt back.

What you need: Yoga mat or towel, yardstick, and masking tape.

How to do it: Sit on the mat with the yardstick between your legs, the 36-inch end facing out. Put a strip of tape across the stick at the 15-inch mark. Keep your legs straight, heels on the tape at that 15-inch mark, with feet about 12 inches apart. Sit up straight. Place one hand on top of the other, exhale, and slowly reach forward as far along the yardstick as you can, lowering your head between your arms. Don't bounce. Relax, sit up, and repeat twice more, noting the farthest inch mark that you reach.

Your Score: Sit-and-Reach*

(Measure reached on yardstick)

Your Age: 18 to 25
Above average: 21 inches or more
Average: 19 to 20 minutes
Below average: 17 to 18 inches
Well below average: 16 inches orless

Your Age: 26 to 35
Above average: 20 inches or more
Average: 19 inches
Below average: 16 to 18 inches
Well below average: 15 inches or less

Your Age: 36 to 45
Above average: 19 inches or more
Average: 17 to 18 inches
Below average: 15 to 16 inches
Well below average: 14 inches or less

Your Age: 46 to 55
Above average: 18 inches or more
Average: 16 to 17 inches
Below average: 14 to 15 inches
Well below average: 13 inches or less

Your Age: 56+
Above average: 17 inches or more
Average: 15 to 16 inches
Below average:13 to 14 inches
Well below average: 12 inches or less

*Adapted from the YMCA of the U.S.A. and used by the American Council on Exercise.

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