This cross-sectional study was designed to develop normative functional fitness standards for the Portuguese older adults, to analyze age and gender patterns of decline, to compare the fitness level of Portuguese older adults with that of older adults in other countries, and to evaluate the fitness level of Portuguese older adults relative to recently published criterion fitness standards associated with maintaining physical independence. A sample of 4,712 independent-living older adults, age 65–103 yr, was evaluated using the Senior Fitness Test battery. Age-group normative fitness scores are reported for the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles. Results indicate that both women and men experience age-related losses in all components of functional fitness, with their rate of decline being greater than that observed in other populations, a trend which may cause Portuguese older adults to be at greater risk for loss of independence in later years. These newly established normative standards make it possible to assess individual fitness level and provide a basis for implementing population-wide health strategies to counteract early loss of independence.
Marques, R. Santos, Vale, and Mota are with the Research Center in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal. Baptista, D. Santos, Silva, and Sardinha are with the Exercise and Health Laboratory, Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal. Marques and R. Santos are with the Maia Inst. of Higher Education, Maia, Portugal.