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Are you fitter than a 5 year old?

Can a 5 year old pass the police fitness test?

We all know that children are more physically active than adults. If they are not, they should be! I do wonder if parental influence can mould this behaviour.

If a child is seeing their parents having fun with exercise, taking them to the park, or running around with them then it must send a positive message. 

It does raise the question however if children are bought up in an environment where parents “hate” or do not do exercise will this be mirrored in a childs behaviour? I believe so.

So the other day I ran a fitness test for a few children whose parents by the way enjoy exercise.  

The question is are you fitter than a 5 year old?

The answer to that is that is that it depends! Age is a commonly cited reason people use when expressing their concern over fitness. Age by itself can not be a reliable reason as to why someone does not reach level 5.4 on the police 15m bleep test.

What may be more of a defining influence should come as no surprise. That is your physical activity levels and nutrition.

The reality is if you are not active and carrying excess body fat your fitness will be lower than someone else of an equivalent age who is more active with less body fat.

Check out the below chart, taken from data looking at the age related decline in fitness amongst career fire fighters.

age related fitness










Chart copied from:


It is apparent that across all groups there is a decline in fitness as one ages.

However look at the differences between the purple and green lines.

The purple line illustrates change in cardiorespiratory fitness for BMI greater than or equal to 30 and less than 150 minutes exercise per week. The green lines shows data for BMI less than 30 and also doing less than 150 minutes exercise each week.

The purple line is lower than the green because the officers with higher BMI are less fit than those with lower BMI, even when matched for exercise intake. This certainly supports my observations having been running such tests for 11 years plus. We can debate muscle mass influence on BMI, yet I could assume from this data the high BMI group are not all short muscular individuals. These would likely be the outliers on the bell shaped curve common with average data reporting so would hardly skew the results.

Link this into police fitness testing and what could I conclude?

It is quite simple really. Start the job with greater exercise levels, a lower amount of body fat and endeavour to maintain this over your career. Your increase in age will likely have no negative influence on your ability to pass level 5.4. The standard is low enough that age does not become a factor.

“Activity levels and nutrition are really what influence if you will pass the police fitness test or not.” Click to tweet

Yes I have missed out other factors such as stress, sleep, injury, illness. Yet I purely wanted to highlight that in a population with no medical barriers to improved fitness the level is very much achievable.

So are you fitter than a 5 yr old? See where you get to, and then watch the below video. (Oh and remember she does have smaller legs than you and this was her first time doing this!)

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