This article describes a nationwide study conducted to develop normative performance data for community-residing older adults. The physical parameters assessed are strength, aerobic endurance, flexibility, and agility/balance. Body mass index was also assessed as an estimate of body composition. The sample comprised 7,183 participants from 267 sites in 21 states. Summary data (M, SD, and percentiles) are reported separately for men and women in 5-year age groups. Results reveal a pattern of decline across most age groups on all variables. ANOVA and post hoc comparisons indicated a significant main effect for age on all variables and that most 5-year age-group declines were significant (p < .007). ANOVAs also revealed a significant main effect for gender on all test items (p < .0001): Men scored better on strength, aerobic endurance, and agility/balance; women scored better on flexibility. The data provide information about normal variations within and usual rates of change across age groups, and they provide a database for subsequent evaluation of individual and group performance.
Roberta E. Rikli and C. Jessie Jones are with the Division of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton. CA 92834.