A Five-Second Test to See Whether You’re Aging Well

If you can finish with 10 points, you're in great shape

A pictograph of exercises. There is a quick fitness test you can take at home to see if you're fit.
There are a ton of ways to determine whether you're aging okay. Here's one of our favorites.
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Unfortunately, most modern fitness tests necessitate equipment, appointments or subscriptions. And too often, the free challenges that are out there cater to people who already have a good idea of how fit they are. This is why we’re big fans of a quick fitness test that prioritizes core strength, proprioception, and flexibility — the sort of stuff that matters a lot as you get up there in years.

How the quick fitness test works:

  1. Start in a standing position with 10 points
  2. Sit down in a cross-legged position on the floor
  3. Rise back up into a standing position

Simple, right? Only for each time you used a hand, knee or forearm to accomplish the task, you have to subtract a point. If you sat down and stood back up using only your core and leg strength, that’s a perfect 10. The goal is to land around eight points or better.

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As a medical contributor, Dr. Natalie Azar demonstrated in a recent appearance on Today, the “sit-to-stand test” (really a stand-to-sit-to-stand test) is deceptively tricky. If your core muscles aren’t exactly in fighting shape, it’s only natural that you’re going to recruit a limb for an extra push in getting back off the ground.

Not to mention: If you’re injured, suffering from back pain, or attempting the test at the end of a long day, or after a night of poor sleep, when you’re feeling tight and tired, you may not register the best results. So try to find a healthy window to give this quick fitness test your best shot.

If you wind up with a low score or find yourself unable to get up at all, that’s okay. That’s information that you can work with — and a benchmark to measure future progress against.

Fitness has a track record of fetishizing size: The thinness of one’s waist, the thickness of one’s shoulders, etc. But when you’re on the back nine of your life, that stuff doesn’t matter much compared to being able to execute basic, everyday tasks with the success, familiarity, and even vigor that you once did.

Perhaps, instead of chasing core strength in an attempt to uncover our abs, we should get into a habit of planks, pelvic tilts, and dead bugs with an eye on easier aging. You don’t have to go crazy; no need to do 100 crunches or leg raises every day. Gentle attention to your core strength today will bring about gentler aging down the line.

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