Find Your Place: Assess Your Cardiovascular Strength

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

This six-minute test measures your ability to move at a moderate to vigorous pace, which strengthens your body and brain.

Can you walk or bike at a moderate to vigorous pace for six minutes? In this video, SilverSneakers fitness expert David Jack explains how this quick test can give you clues about your endurance—and your ability to keep your body and brain healthy.

You’ll need a place to do cardiovascular exercise—this can be a treadmill, recumbent bike, or flat surface to walk on—and a way to keep time. Try the test now, then see what your results mean below. If you’re not able to do moderate to vigorous exercise safely, skip the test, but check out the tips below.

If You Were Able to Finish Strong

That’s a sign you’re able to move at a moderate to vigorous pace. And the more exercise you can do, the better. Here’s why: You probably know that regular exercise can lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Did you know it can also improve sleep quality, ease depression, and lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s?

For your healthiest body and brain, aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Make it easy by downloading the SilverSneakers GO app, which offers cardio and walking programs for all fitness levels (free, iOS and Android).

If You Weren’t Able to Keep Up

That’s a sign you may need to improve your endurance. Your game plan, according to the latest fitness guidelines: “Start low and go slow.” That means starting at a lower intensity, and gradually increasing how much and how often you exercise.

If you’re fairly inactive now, slow, short walks or water exercise may be a good place to start. SilverSneakers classes can also be a fun way to get moving—and many classes can be modified for your needs.

Seeing and celebrating your success over time can help you stay motivated. Track your workouts with the SilverSneakers GO app (free, iOS and Android) or on this free printable calendar.

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If You Weren’t Able to Take the Test or Have a Chronic Condition

The first thing to remember is physical activity is safe—and beneficial—for almost everyone, according to the latest fitness guidelines. The key is working with your doctor to find the right plan for you.

Start by talking to your doctor about your current health and any medications you take. Ask these three questions:

  • What types of exercise are appropriate for me?
  • How often and how much should I do them?
  • Are there precautions or steps I should take? For example, people who have had a heart attack may need to do cardiac rehab before exercising on their own. People with arthritis may need tips to manage pain.

Check Your SilverSneakers Eligibility Instantly

SilverSneakers gives you free, unlimited access to more than 15,000 gyms and fitness centers across the nation, plus classes and tools designed to keep older adults strong and independent. Check your eligibility instantly here. Already a member? Get your SilverSneakers member ID and exclusive content by logging in to or creating your online account here.

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