The primary purpose of this paper, one of the first physiological studies of Senior Olympic athletes, was to determine the physical fitness level of Senior Olympic participants 50 to 86 years of age. It was hypothesized that Senior Olympic athletes would be more physically fit than healthy older adults not classified as Senior Olympic athletes. The athletes’ screening questionnaire (PAR-Q) results showed a 43% positive rate, making maximal testing and underwater testing impractical and possibly unsafe. However, all subjects were allowed to perform the AAHPERD functional fitness test battery. Senior Olympic athletes did not perform better (p < .05) on any of the AAHPERD functional fitness tests than a group of nonathletes who lived independently. Furthermore, questionnaire results suggested that some athletes were competing with little or no training. These results indicated that researchers and events managers should not assume that all Senior Olympic athletes are exceptionally healthy or physically fit.
The authors are with the Exercise Physiology Laboratory, University of Nevada–Las Vegas, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89154-3016.