2 Easy Physical Fitness Tests for Older Adults

physical fitness tests

Stay Active and Independent: 2 Easy At-Home Physical Fitness Tests for Over 55


The other day I was talking to a patient who was getting frustrated with how slow she was walking.

“I used to walk so much faster and now I’m having a hard time keeping up with my walking group,” she told me.

She surprised me with her next question;

“Does that mean I’m getting old?”

The question felt like a trap! A little bit like the question your wife asks “Does this dress make me look fat?”

Mind you, she’s an active 71-year-old lady and I was not about to tell her “No honey, your age does.”

Instead, I asked her, “Would you like to do something to help you walk faster?” (totally avoiding her “getting old question”).

Before we got started I ran her through a few tests to determine her activity level and I got to thinking how easy these tests are to do at home.

They just need a few considerations to make them safe.

Here are my 2 favorite physical fitness tests for people over 55 to help determine the strength and balance of their legs.

These tests not only help gauge your physical fitness but also provide insights into your overall well-being.

physical fitness test

Test 1: Single Leg Balance Test

Maintaining balance is a key factor in staying active and avoiding falls, especially as we age. This test is as simple as it sounds – find a stable surface and stand on one leg with your hands on your hips.

Do this near a countertop and with a chair behind you so you can catch yourself if you lose your balance. Raise your right leg and start the timer.

Keep the knee bent at a 90-degree angle, this way you can’t hook your ankles behind you.

If you have to step down with your foot or reach out and touch the counter the test stops and you stop the timer.

Normative Data:

– Age 55-59: Average time is around 26 seconds.
– Age 60-64: Average time is around 23 seconds.
– Age 65-69: Average time is around 19 seconds.
– Age 70-74: Average time is around 16 seconds.
– Age 75+: Average time is around 12 seconds.

physical fitness test

Test 2: 5 Rep Chair Rise Test

This test is a great indicator of lower body strength and functional fitness. Find a sturdy, kitchen table-style chair and sit down with your arms crossed over your chest.

Start a timer stand up fully, and then sit back down without using your hands or arms for support. Repeat this action five times as smoothly and quickly as you can.

Once you finish your 5th rep, stop the timer.

Normative Data:

– Age 55-59: Average time is around 11.4 seconds.
– Age 60-64: Average time is around 12.6 seconds.
– Age 65-69: Average time is around 14.1 seconds.
– Age 70-74: Average time is around 16.3 seconds.
– Age 75+: Average time is around 17.5 seconds.

Correlation to Walking Speed

Both of these physical fitness tests are closely linked to walking speed. If you can’t maintain balance on one leg or struggle to rise from a chair, it might affect your walking abilities. After all, walking requires strength, balance, and coordination – qualities that these tests help assess.

Correlation to Sarcopenia, Osteoporosis, and Falls

Sarcopenia (muscle loss) and osteoporosis (bone density loss) are concerns as we age. These tests reflect your muscle strength and overall bone health. Weakness in these areas can increase the risk of falls and fractures.

By taking these tests, you’re actively working against these issues and helping to keep them at bay.

In a world that sometimes leans towards quick fixes like pills and surgery, these tests remind us of the importance of a holistic approach.

Regular exercise and proper nutrition lay the foundation for a healthy body and mind.

They’re the true keys to unlocking the joy of a fulfilling journey through life.

So, give these physical fitness tests a try and see where you stand. Remember, it’s not just about the numbers – it’s about investing in your well-being, staying vibrant, and enjoying every step of the way.

Stay active, stay fabulous!


If you want to get started on your Fitness Journey, join our Fitness Program now and stay active!

For more related and knowledgeable articles:

Read Our Blog: Two Simple At-Home Balance Tests If You’re Worried About Falling

Read Our Blog: Should I Be Walking? How to Walk Without Causing Injuries

Watch our Physical Therapy success stories to learn more about how we helped our patients have a better life:

PT Worked Perfectly For Me – Kathy’s Success Story

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Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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