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The Old Person Test
Also known as the old man test or the old woman test.

The Old Person Test
The Old Person Test

Over the years, I’ve posted various fitness tests and challenges. Things you can attempt to do while comparing your abilities to the average person. Based on how well you did, those tests could tell you more about your potential for injury, illness or even how long you might live.

Now I’m sharing a challenge that has NO clinical testing behind it. The primary purpose is to see if you can do it. The original video of this challenge was posted by powerlifter Mark Bell and demonstrated by Chris Hinshaw. They called it the “Old Man Test.” But since both men and women can use it, I prefer to call it the “Old Person Test.”

Strength, flexibility and balance are all required for this challenge. If you can complete it, you get bragging rights. If you can’t, figure out how and why you failed. Then use it as a teachable moment to see what you need to work on.

Can you pass the old person test?

It’s nothing more than seeing if you can put on a pair of socks and shoes. The challenging part is you’ll be doing it while standing up and balancing on just one leg.

  1. Start barefoot on a stable surface. Don’t stand on rugs that could shift or slick floors.

  2. Check the area around you and make sure it’s clear. If you fall, you don’t want to go crashing into a coffee table, through a window or tumble downstairs.

  3. Place your shoes and socks on the floor in front of you. The shoes should have laces, and they need to be untied.

  4. Start by lifting one leg off the ground. Then bend over, pick up the sock and put it on without letting that foot touch the ground.

  5. Once you get the sock on, keep that foot raised. Bend over, pick up the shoe, put it on and tie it. Only after the shoe is tied can you lower that foot.

  6. Now repeat with the other foot. Raise it off the ground, pick up the sock, put it on, pick up the shoe, put it on, tie the shoe, and you’re finished.

There are several things at play here. You’ve got to be mobile enough to bend over and pick items up off the floor. You need balance to do the test while standing on just one leg. You also need the stamina to be able to keep your foot raised while you’re putting things on.

You fail the test if a foot touches the floor when it shouldn’t. You also fail if you have to grab something to steady yourself or lose your balance and fall to the floor.

There are a couple things you can do to make it even more challenging:

  1. Do the whole thing while being timed. You’re good if you can do it in 60 seconds or less; great if you can do it in 30 seconds or less.

  2. Try it while keeping your eyes closed the entire time.

Many people will not be able to do any version of this. Prior injuries, a poor sense of balance or a chronic medical condition can all get in the way. But if you are potentially capable of doing it, the part that tripped you up might tell you what you need to work on.

If you can’t bend all the way down to pick things up, maybe you need to stretch more. If you lose your balance, you might practice exercises like standing on one leg while brushing your teeth. If you aren’t strong enough to keep your foot raised, you might want to do more strength training exercises. If you need more stamina, try adding more cardio.

How did you do?