As Annabel and I have got older, muffin tops, jowls and wrinkles have become comparatively minor issues compared to a – now far more important – continued enjoyment of good health. So we decided to do a few simple tests to see how well we are both ageing. It was really good fun and certainly cheered us up as we couldn’t stop giggling. May have something to do with the fact that we were on Zoom in our jimjams at the time! On a slightly more serious note, 60 may be the new 40 but it’s wise to keep a close eye on our fitness once we’re over 50…
The Balance Test
This test is recommended to assess your risk for falls as you get older.
Stand up straight with your arms crossed. Lift up either leg, starting a timer as you do so, and hold that leg up – with your knee bent – for as long as you can without touching the other leg or uncrossing your arms. Don’t use a support. Stop the timer when the raised leg touches the floor or the other leg, or if you uncross your arms.
The average person in their 60s, 70s and 80s should be able to hold this position for around 27 seconds, 17.2 seconds and 8.5 seconds, respectively.
The Timed Up-And-Go Test
This test is frequently used to assess your mobility and risk of falls.
Sit in a chair. Start the timer as you start to stand up. As soon as you’re up on your feet, walk 10 feet forward, turn around and return to your seat, stopping the timer as soon as you are seated.
A healthy adult without mobility issues should be able to do this in 12 seconds. If you score 13 to 20 seconds your balance could be impaired, 20 seconds plus could indicate problems with mobility.
Chair Rise Test
Sit comfortably on a dining room chair, your feet firmly on the ground. Set a stopwatch, or use the secondhand on your watch, and simply stand without using your hands or arms for support, then sit again gently as many times as you can in 30 seconds. Healthy women in their 60s should be able to achieve at least 12 and men 14.
If you find this easy, progress to a softer, lower easy-chair which demands greater strength and balance to get up from and down without support, and see how many times you can get up and down out of the chair in 30 seconds. The targets are the same as above.
Stand in front of a mirror in comfortable clothes with your shoes off. Simply lower yourself into a cross-legged sitting position on the floor without using your hands for support or kneeling on the way down. Then return to a standing position without using your hands, knees or arms for support.
Score your efforts out of ten, subtracting one point every time you have to use a hand or knee for support, and half a point every time you lose balance or wobble. Aim to score eight or above. Sounds easy but wait until you try it!
However you get on with these simple tests, remember to keep exercising (aerobic and stretch), eat healthily and give your brain a workout (crosswords or, even better, learn another language). These three things appear to be key to living a long and healthy life.
Also worth reading – 9 routine health checks that could save your life.
Read more useful wellbeing articles here