New Fitness Goals for the New Year - PMD Alliance

While I believe that any time of year is a great time to start working on new fitness goals, it seems appropriate that we kick the year off with four simple tests to keep you on track in 2020!

As a physical therapist, I strive to empower people to take control of reaching their goals. While I would love to work with all of my clients 365 days a year, it is not feasible.  Evidence in the literature has proven that exercise is a primary factor in slowing the progression of Parkinson’s Disease and fighting symptoms. We utilize functional tests and outcome measures in order to quantify progress throughout the course of our programs, but how can you tell if you’re doing enough exercise on your own?

I’m going to share four simple tests that can be performed at home. As a disclaimer, I recommend that you do not perform any of these tests until first being cleared by your health care practitioner. Additionally, having a family member or care partner present for safety and to record times as you perform these tests will yield the best measurements. These tests may not be appropriate for everyone depending on mobility level.

#1. Five Time Sit to Stand Test


This takes a functional look at your leg strength and your ability to transfer in a timely manner.


Instructions: Sit with arms folded across your chest and your back against the chair. Stand and sit five times as quickly (but safely) as you can. Be sure to stand all the way up and sit all the way down.


Timing begins at ‘Go’ and ends with the buttocks touch the chair after the fifth repetition.


Risk for Falls (age dependent)

  • 60-90 y/o  > 11.4 sec
  • 70-79 y/o  > 12.6 sec
  • 80-89 y/o  > 14.8 sec

    Significant Change: 2.3 seconds or greater

    #2.  Timed up and Go Test


    This takes a functional look at your mobility, balance, and associated fall risk.


    Instructions: Start seated in a chair. Walk 10 feet, turn around, and walk back to the chair and sit down as quickly and safely as possible.


    Timing begins when you start to rise from the chair and ends when you are sitting completely in the chair.


    Risk for Falls > 11.5 sec


    Significant Change: 4.85 sec

    #3.  Four Square Step Test


    This looks at your ability to step over objects in different directions (forward, sideways, and backward)


    Instructions: Stand in square 1 (see image below). Move in a clockwise direction around the square, followed immediately by a counterclockwise direction.


    *Step Sequence: 2,3,4,1,4,3,2,1

  • To set up this assessment: Use broomsticks, canes, or PVC pipe.
  • Alternative option: place tape on the ground.

    Timing begins when you start stepping into square 2 and ends when you arrive back in square 1.


    Risk for Falls > 9.68 seconds

    Four Square Step Test

    #4. Six Minute Walk Test


    This looks at your submaximal functional endurance.


    Instructions: Walk at your self-selected pace for 6 minutes. Utilize the same ‘track’ each time you perform the test.  A 100 ft. walk way is ideal, but consistency each time you assess is most important.

  • A measuring wheel is recommending for tracking distance.

    Timing begins when you start walking and the test is complete after walking 6 minutes. You may take as many standing rests as needed. If a seated rest is required, the test is complete at that point. Assistive devices may be used, just keep track of what type of device was used when recording results.



    Significant Change: 269 feet or more

    One of my goals in the new year is to provide valuable content to you on a regular basis. If you’d like to receive more information like this, please click the button below!

    Jennifer Anderson

    Jennifer Anderson, PT, DPT, NCS, is a physical therapist with a passion for Parkinson’s Disease. She founded Root Physical Therapy, with services specifically designed to empower people with PD. Jennifer earned her doctorate in physical therapy (DPT) from A.T. Still University. She is a board-certified neurologic clinical specialist (NCS), a distinguished certification attained by successful completion of a rigorous examination, demonstrating specialized knowledge and advanced clinical proficiency in neurologic physical therapy practice. She is LSVT BIG® certified, and PWR! trained.

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