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What’s Your Fitness Age? Find Out With These Four Tests

Up until around 30, an able-bodied person naturally gets stronger without having to do anything as the body conditions itself to the demands of everyday life – even if everyday life isn’t particularly physically challenging for many of us. In terms of agility, strength, balance and overall fitness, a healthy human body’s potential peaks between mid-20s to early 30s.

After that, there’s a gradual decline, and you can no longer just leave your body alone and expect it to be just as fit as it was yesterday. The changes are so slight that it’s easy not to notice them, until they add up to those little niggles that become the daily reality of “getting old”.

For me, I’d say my last symptom-free day was around 35. Since then, every day has presented me with some little ache or pain or stiffness, some of which will last for a morning and some of which are more stubborn physical conditions that need to be managed long term. Either way, my body regularly reminds me that I need to be looking after it.

Despite this inevitable decline, you can be fitter and stronger in your 60s than you were in your 30s. With the right training, conditioning and diet, you can mitigate many of the effects of ageing to maintain your physical capability or even increase it.

It may be more difficult than when you were younger and your peak potential won’t be as high, but unless you’re an athlete, that won’t matter day to day.

What is fitness age?

The first step to solving a problem is knowing you have one. As physical decline is very gradual, many people don’t start to take their fitness seriously until it becomes an obvious problem. Aches and pains can be “lived with” but a torn muscle, not so much.

To make sure you stay ahead of the curve, you need to know your fitness age, which is how your fitness ranks on the scale of average physical capability from 20 to 69+. For example, if you’re a 60-year-old with the fitness of an average 30-year-old, you’re doing fantastic. If it’s the other way around, you should be concerned.

Here are four tests you can do at home which will measure your upper and lower body strength, balance and cardiovascular fitness.

Upper body: push ups

To do a push up, start on your tiptoes with your palms against the floor and your hands just outside of your shoulders. If you’re female, place your knees against the ground instead of your toes. Your body should form a straight line, so be aware of any excess curve in your hips or shoulders.

Push ups
MALE Age 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69
Excellent >34 >27 >21 >17 >16
Desirable 27-33 21-26 16-21 11-16 10 -15
Needs improvement 17-26 12-20 10 -15 7 -10 5 -9
Caution <17 <12 <10 <7 <5
FEMALE Age 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69
 (on knees) Excellent >26 >24 >22 >17 >15
Desirable 20-25 17-23 14-21 10 -16 10-14
Needs improvement 10-19 8-16 5-13 2-9 2-9
Caution <10 <8 <5 <2 <2

Lower body: sit to stand

Sit in a sturdy chair that puts your knees at a roughly 90-degree angle when you sit down. From sitting, simply stand up without using any assistance from your arms, then lower yourself back down into the chair. Keep going for 30 seconds and count how many repetitions you complete.

  Sit to stand
MALE Age 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70-79 80-89
Excellent >35 >31 >27 >23 >19 >18 >15
Desirable 30-34 25-30 22-26 18-22 14-18 13-17 10-14
Needs improvement 25-30 21-24 17-21 13-17 9-13 8-12 6-9
Caution <24 <20 <16 <12 <8 <7 <5
FEMALE Age  20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70-79 80-89
Excellent >33 >29 >25 >21 >18 >16 >14
Desireable 29-32 25-28 21-24 17-20 13-17 11-15 9-13
Needs improvement 24-29 20-25 16-20 12 – 17 9-12 7-10 5-8
Caution <23 <19 <15 <11 <8 <6 <4

Balance: standing on one leg

This one’s simple: how long can you stand on one leg with your eyes closed?

With falls being one of the major causes of injury, physical decline and death in the elderly, it’s crucial that you train your balance in later life. Extreme loss of balance also affects your ability to walk, as you can no longer support your weight on one leg long enough for a full stride.

Single leg balance – eyes closed – time in seconds
Age 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70+
Excellent >25 >23 >21 >19 >17 >15
Desirable 20-24 16-22 15-20 12-18 11-16 10-14
Needs improvement 15-20 12-16 10-14 9-11 9-10 8-9
Caution <15 <12 <10 <8 <8 <8

 Cardiovascular: 1.5-mile walk/run

Another simple test: plan a 1.5-mile route across flat ground and time how long it takes you to reach the finish line.

While lower body strength and balance are also required for this test, this is primarily to measure your cardiovascular fitness. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, yet most are also preventable with the right diet and level of physical activity.

1.5 Mile walk/run Test
Time in minutes
MALE Age 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69
Excellent <9:00 <11:00 <12:30 <14:00 <18:00
Desirable 9:00-11:00 11:00-11:40 12:30-13:40 14:00-15:30 18-20
Needs improvement 11:00-13:00 11:40-14:00 13:40-16:00 15:30-17:30 20-21:30
Caution >13:00 >14:00 >16:00 >17:30 >21:30
FEMALE Age 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69
Excellent <13:30 <14:30 <16:00 <19:00 <22:30
Desirable 13:30-14:30 14:30-16:30 16:00-17:30 19:00-20:30 22:30-25:00
Needs improvement 14:30-17:00 16:30-19:00 17:30-23:30 20:30-26:00 25:00-29:00
Caution >17:00 >19:00 >23:30 >26:00 >29:00

So, how did you do? Are you keeping pace with your age or falling far behind? If any of your results concern you, come and see us and we’ll get you back on track. Book your appointment now by emailing info@westlondonphysio.co.uk or calling us on 0207 937 1628.

23 Ansdell Street | Kensington

London | W8 5BN | UK

t: 0207 937 1628 | f: 0207 937 2091

e: info@westlondonphysio.co.uk

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