I'm 61 and Took the Army Physical Fitness Test: Here's My Score

Being fit is ultimately about feeling good and being able to enjoy life.

Every year or so I take the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). One practical rule of fitness is to compete against yourself rather than against others. You're less likely to push yourself to the point of getting hurt when you compete only against yourself. The APFT provides a handy gauge of your fitness by age. It's a simple way to measure your core strength and cardio-respiratory fitness.

The three PFT events are two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups, and a timed 2-mile run. Your results from each event are assigned a score. To pass you must Score 180 points or higher with at least 60 points in each event. Your age, gender and the amount of repetitions or time elapsed for each event determines your score.

I first wrote about the test in This Nation's Devolution from Quality to Convenience (January 4, 2010).

I am 61 and turn 62 in December 2015. I am a mediocre athlete (just ask my high school teammates...) I am not a gym rat and in fact never go to a gym. I don't lift heavy weights or do any extraordinary training. I walk or bicycle every day, often as a means of doing errands, and I run two kilometers (1.2 miles) once or twice a week. I limit running to avoid pounding my knees too much; when I was a production carpenter/builder, I carried a lot of weight and various joints reflect that wear and tear.

I do not do hours of strenuous exercise or push myself to the point of pain. Easy does it is my credo. In other words, the key to fitness (in my view) is not competition against others--it's being aware of your own limits and pressing up against that line without exceeding it.

Once you're injured, your fitness program is severely limited. So my Number One priority is to avoid injury.

(If you have no fitness program, be sure to consult a doctor before starting any fitness routine. Get a comprehensive physical and baseline tests of blood pressure, cholesterol, fasting blood sugar, etc.)

In taking the test, I did not push past my limits; I only did what was comfortable. The point is to test your fitness on an average day.

Once again: do NOT attempt the APFT if you have no regular, sustained fitness program, and do not start a fitness program without consulting a physician who has access to your medical history and current records. Also, do not view the test as a competition against me or anyone else; it's only a baseline standard, not the Guinness Book of World Records. There is no prize awarded, other than fitness itself.

Finally, remember that fitness, diet (eating a variety of home-prepared real food) and mental health are one system--they cannot be separated. Total fitness builds not just strength and endurance but health, mental fortitude and a sense of well-being.

The score tables for each test by age are listed in this Army Physical Fitness Scorecard.

I set a strict standard for my tests: one set each for push-ups and sit-ups, i.e. no rest between sets. I did as many as I could and stopped, even though I still had time left. On the other hand, I set a relaxed schedule for doing each test, i.e. I did the run on another day rather than complete all three tests in one go.)

I don't think it matters much whether you allow yourself two sets, or take one test per day. The point is to establish a baseline of your core strength and endurance.

I did 37 push-ups in one set, 60 sit-ups in one set and did the 2-mile run in 18:08.

For my age group (57-61), the scores: (180 out of a maximum of 300 is passing)

37 push-ups: 82

60 sit-ups: 96

18:08 run: 76

total score: 254 out of 300

My scores for the age group 42-46, males 20 years my junior:

37 push-ups: 68

60 sit-ups: 88

18:08 run: 65

total score: 221 out of 300

My total score for the age group 32-36, males 30 years my junior; I missed the minimum 60 points for the 2-mile run by 4 points (I needed 17:42):

37 push-ups: 61

60 sit-ups: 81

18:08 run: 56

total score: 198 out of 300

I am not ripped, and I'm not competing in the Triathlon. I'm basically just another geezer in line at Costco.

Being fit is ultimately about feeling good and being able to enjoy life. The point of the APF Test is that minimum fitness isn't that difficult to reach, even if you're 40, 50, 60 or older, if you increase your fitness bit by bit, day by day, week by week, month by month.

The lower our standards and goals, the less we accomplish and the poorer the quality of our lives.

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