Getting seniors sport-ready

by | September 26, 2016

Through a new fitness test, seniors are assessed of their fitness level and what sport they can pursue.


A senior doing an upper body strength test suing dumbbells.

A participant doing an upper body strength test using dumbbells.

About 100 seniors came down to the Pasir Ris Sports Complex on Sunday during the six hours to take the new FIT for FUNction fitness test developed by the Singapore Physiotherapy Association and ActiveSG that assesses their fitness level and advises them on a suitable sport to pursue.

One of them was 69-year-old Tan Boon Huat, who sometimes does light exercises such push-ups and dumbbells, and also occasionally brisk walks once a week. On top of that, he swims when his grandchildren come over to his place. He went through seven stations conducted by physiotherapists that evaluated his strength, flexibility, balance, agility and aerobic capability, all together taking 15 to 20 minutes.

Tan Boon Huat showing his scorecard after the assessment.

Tan Boon Huat showing his scorecard after the assessment.

The stations, where certain tests were slightly modified for those below 60 (and if pain exists, the tests were further modified), included push-ups/dumbbells, leg balances, shuttle run/stand up and walk around the cones and sit down, back strength test with the hands, sit and reach on the floor/on the chair, and step-in place/step-up using a metronome. According to the Singapore Physiotherapy Association, these tests have been done in a clinical setting in a hospital and are based on existing evidence.

After doing the tests, Boon Huat received a scorecard informing him how sport-ready he is and was advised by a fitness instructor on which sports to take up or avoid. “From the results, I am not good in lower limb flexibility so I need to do more stretching of my lower leg. My left hand is also not so good as I had trouble reaching the other hand in the back. So far all is good,” said the grandfather of three. He will have a number of exercises he can choose from to address his weaknesses such as pilates, yoga, qigong and tai chi.

Another participant Alice Ho, 66, came down for the test with her husband. Both of them walk five days a week and were happy to be assessed. “It is good. At least it keeps us in touch with our physical health so [from the results] we know we can continue on,” said the grandmother of two. And, another participant, 55-year-old Dinah Tan added: “I wanted to come and see where I stand. I want to know for my age and also because it is free.” The mother of two not only walks two to three times a week but also does yoga and pilates.

A senior doing an upper body flexibility test by seeing if she is able to grab both hands in the back.

Another participant doing an upper body flexibility test by seeing if she is able to grab both hands in the back.

Jazimin Haron, a physiotherapist from the Singapore Physiotherapist Association, shared that the fitness test can help reduce the risk of injury of a participant as it allows him or her to identify which component of fitness they are good or weak in. He added, “Seniors generally think they don’t need to exercise because of many reasons including age and they should exercise. It comes down to what type of exercise they can do.” As one ages, Jazimin noted, one loses balance and bone mass, and exercises can help to target them.

For those who would like to take the test, here are some of the upcoming sessions:

  • October 1 – Yishun Wellness Centre, Blk 115 Yishun Ring Rd, 9am – 12pm
  • November 20 – Toa Payoh Sports Hall, 8am – 1pm
  • Jurong West Sports Hall – February 19, 2017, 8am – 1pm
A senior doing a balancing test.

A participant doing a balancing test.

Seniors can also go to the 19 ActiveSG sports centres’ islandwide to find out more details about the test and/or to register for upcoming sessions.


** ActiveSG has a range of programmes suitable for seniors – for those who prefer to start off with a less vigorous activity, there are interest groups where seniors can try out senior-friendly activities like Towel and Resistance Band workouts as well as aqua aerobics. Go to


SIDEBOX: What exercises can you do?

Here’s a chart by the Singapore Physiotherapy Association where it shows what exercises are good for strength, balance, aerobic, flexibility and agility:



(** All pictures except for the scorecard and types of exercises were taken by AC Leong/Sport Singapore)



1 Comment

  1. Sandy

    Awesome idea! If there’s a single demographic that most needs to take up a more active lifestyle and participate in exercise – and is also the least likely to do so – it’s seniors. Physical exercise is not just the most powerful tool against the declines that come with aging – but also can dramatically improve brain health, mood and mental clarity.


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