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Tools for Assessing Older Adults

Assessment is foundational to all exercise programming, but when working with older adults, it is even more critical. There are numerous assessment tools and protocols you can use to evaluate your OA clients. Below are some of the most popular and most frequently used.

When conducting fitness assessments, it is important to strictly adhere to testing protocols and accurately record results. By doing so, your results will reflect a true value that provides a baseline for assessing progress or decline over time, even it the assessments are administered by someone else.

1. Fullerton Functional Fitness Test

Sometimes referred to as the Senior Fitness Test, the Fullerton protocol provides a battery of sub-tests to assess functional fitness. Assessments for aerobic endurance, range of motion, strength and agility are all included. The tests are easy to administer and require minimal equipment. The Fullerton Functional Fitness Test is ideal for testing large groups if you set up individual testing stations using multiple testers.

2. AAHPERD Functional Fitness Test

Developed by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD), this battery of tests is geared to low fitness adults over 60 who are not yet considered frail. The assessments address body composition, flexibility, agility, coordination, upper body strength and aerobic endurance. Like the Fullerton battery, the AAHPERD tests require minimal equipment and are relatively simple to administer.

3. Groningen Fitness Test for the Elderly (GFE)

In addition to range of motion, strength and aerobic fitness, the GFE includes assessments for fine motor skills, manual dexterity, agility and balance. Similar to the AAHPERD and Fullerton tests, this battery of assessments is geared to functional fitness versus athletic performance. Once again, the tests can be administered with minimal training and equipment.

4. YMCA Fitness Assessment

The Y was an early pioneer in fitness testing and the YMCA Fitness Assessment provides one of the most comprehensive batteries of tests. While not appropriate for low-fitness older adults, the Y assessment protocol will give an extensive fitness profile for healthy active adults of all ages, including fit and active seniors.


Older Adult Fitness presents a growing and gratifying market for Fitness Practitioners. However, before you start recruiting octogenarians, bring yourself up to speed on their special needs and limitations. W.I.T.S. has you covered with Personal Fitness Trainer and Older Adult Fitness Specialist Certifications. Already certified? Then continue your education with Older Adult Fitness Foundations, Exercise Program Design for Special Populations and Fundamentals of Sport and Exercise Nutrition.

Images courtesy of stockimages; photostock.

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