Why Test Seniors?
Fitness is very important for those in their senior years. Older adults need to have adequate strength, flexibility, and endurance to accomplish everyday tasks. Assessing these components of fitness can detect weaknesses which can be treated before causing serious functional limitations.
The Senior Fitness Test
The Senior Fitness Test was developed as part of the LifeSpan Wellness Program at Fullerton University, by Dr. Roberta Rikli and Dr. Jessie Jones. As such, the test is sometimes known as the Fullerton Functional Test. It is a simple, easy-to-use battery of test items that assess the functional fitness of older adults. The test describes easy to understand and effective tests to measure aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility using minimal and inexpensive equipment.
The Senior Fitness Test Kit is suitable for fitness professionals, health care professionals, physical therapists, and therapeutic recreation specialists who work with seniors. You can buy it from Amazon.
What Tests are included?
The individual fitness test items involve common activities such as getting up from a chair, walking, lifting, bending, and stretching. The tests were developed to be safe and enjoyable for older adults, while still meeting scientific standards for reliability and validity. Here is a list of the tests, with links to more details for each.
- Chair Stand Test — testing lower body strength
- Arm Curl Test — testing upper body strength
- Chair Sit and Reach Test — lower body flexibility test
- Back Scratch Test — upper body flexibility test
- 8-Foot Up and Go Test — agility test
- Walk Test (6 minutes) or Step in Place Test (2 minutes) — The walk test is used to assess aerobic fitness unless the person uses orthopedic devices when walking or has difficulty balancing, in which case they do the step in place test..
About the Kit
The authors are well renown academics, Roberta E. Rikli, PhD, and C. Jessie Jones, PhD.. The test kit is published by Human Kinetics Publishers. The kit includes a manual, software and a video, each available separately.
The Manual provides details about the theoretical basis for the tests. It also includes all information required to administer and score the test, and providing feedback to test participants about their results. An appendix has reproducible sample forms, charts, tables, and posters for instructors to use in their programs, including normative data based on actual performance scores of over 7,000 men and women between the ages of 60 and 94.
The optional companion software aids the user in tracking the test scores, comparing the scores to national norms, and printing useful reports on participants’ functional fitness levels. There are also calculators and several options for reports. A video that is also available shows the instructors how to administer the test battery properly to both individuals and groups.
- Rikli R.E., Jones C.J.: The development and validation of a functional fitness test for community-residimg older adults. J of Aging and Physical Activity, 1999a; 7: 129–161
- Rikli R.E., Jones C.J.: Functional fitness normative scores for community-residing older adults, ages 60–94. J of Aging and Physical Activity, 1999b; 7: 162–181
- Jones C. Jessie, Rikli R.: Senior Fitness Test Manual. J Aging & Physical Activity, 2002: 10; 1, 110.
- Jones C.J., Rikli R.E., Measuring functional fitness of older adults, The Journal on Active Aging, March April 2002, pp. 24–30.
- Anna Różańska-Kirschke, Piotr Kocur, Małgorzata Wilk, Piotr Dylewicz, The Fullerton Fitness Test as an index of fitness in the elderly (Test Fullerton jako miernik sprawności fizycznej osób starszych), Medical Rehabilitation 2006; 10(2): 9-16.
- Read a discussion about testing the elderly
- Other tests for seniors are the Groningen Fitness Test for the Elderly and the AAHPERD functional fitness test.
- Read about fitness testing for Specific Groups and Special Populations
- Fitness Testing for Obese and Overweight participants
- Buy the Senior Fitness Test Manual