Association of physical fitness and ageing among older Chinese people

Ming Yan CHUNG, Wai Yee Joanne CHUNG, Kwok Shing Thomas WONG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Background: Physical function is related to mortality and morbidity of older persons. Assessment of physical fitness helps to identify early physical ageing. This study investigated the physical fitness levels of older Hong Kong adults and the ageing effect on health. Methods: 90 men and 285 women aged 43 to 95 (mean, 68) years were assessed. Their body height, body weight, flexibility (sit and reach), single leg stance time, reaction time, hand grip strength, lung capacity, and exercise capacity (step test) were measured. Self-reported demographics and exercise patterns were analysed in terms of age using the Chi squared test. Sex- and age-group differences were tested for significance. Results: All age groups were overweight, except for women older than 84 years. All test values declined with age, except for body mass index. The physical fitness level of men was better than that of women in the same age category. For men, a significant decrease in hand grip strength occurred around the age of 65 years (p<0.05), whereas reaction time and flexibility decreased at around the ages of 55 and 75 years, respectively (p<0.05 for both). For women, a significant decrease in balance and flexibility occurred around the age of 55 years (p<0.05), whereas reaction time (p<0.001) and lung capacity (p<0.05) decreased around the age of 65 years and hand grip strength (p<0.05) decreased around the age of 75 years. Conclusion: Women age earlier than men and in more functional aspects. Significant decreases in physical fitness start at the age of 55 years and decline quickly, suggesting a risk to quality of life. Physical fitness assessment should be performed regularly for early intervention. Copyright © 2012 Hong Kong Geriatrics Society and Hong Kong Association of Gerontology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-79
JournalAsian Journal of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


Physical Fitness
Hand Strength
Hong Kong
Reaction Time
Lung Volume Measurements
Age Groups
Body Height
Exercise Test
Body Mass Index
Body Weight
Quality of Life


Chung, L. M. Y., Chung, J. W. Y., & Wong, T. K. S. (2012). Association of physical fitness and ageing among older Chinese people. Asian Journal of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 7(2), 69-79.


  • Total lung capacity
  • Aging
  • Hand strength
  • Physical fitness
  • Reaction time