Fitness Testing Overview

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Purpose of Health Screening & Fitness Assessment

Fitness Assessment

  • Screens
    • Identifies individuals at risk
    • Documents known and unknown disabilities and impairments
    • Therapy or medical referral may be provided for treatable conditions
  • Assesses
    • Identifies need for specific exercise prescription
    • Detects strengths and weaknesses
  • Predicts
    • Identifies expected outcomes
    • Set goals
  • Monitors
    • Checks efficacy of program
    • Initial testing establishes a baseline for future testing
    • Changes to program can be made based in part from the results of future testing


General Procedures

  • Pretesting
  • Choose appropriate fitness test
    • Consider availability of equipment, testing enviorment, goals of assessment, age and physical limitations of subject
    • Note tests validity, reliability, sensitivity, acceptability, and practicality
    • Norms should be derived from population similar to subject
  • Test and retest conditions should be similar
    • Time of day, equipment, fatigue, motivation, etc
    • Same tester (particularly for skinfold and circumferences tests where inter-tester reliability is high)
  • Delivery of test instructions
  • Appropriate warm-ups & cooldowns
    • Stretching before strength and power assessment may decrease performance for up to one hour (Evetovich 2003, Young 2003) and may not decrease occurrence of injury (See Stretching and Flexibility)
  • Follow logical order of fitness tests to decrease fatigues effect on test performance
  • Terminate test if indications are observed

Also see Procedures for the Administration of a Graded Exercise Test and YMCA fitness Tests


Causes of Fitness Testing Error

  • Subject
    • Motivation, Fatigue
    • Bodyweight variations other than body composition from test to retest:
      • Varied hydration and ingested food
        • different time of day or altered diet
        • exercising or physical activity before test
      • Different clothes worn
  • Technician
    • Experience with technique
    • Lack of standardization
    • Encouragement given to subject
    • Tester bias
  • Equipment
    • Calibration
    • Appropriate fit to subject
  • Environment
    • Room temperature (indoor), wheather (outdoor), time of day, distractions


Clinical Exercise Tests

  • Death rate for clinical exercise lab test ~1 / 20,000 tests
    • ~1 / 50,000 risk of dying during exercise
  • Always have emergency drugs and equipment available
  • A physician may need to be present for higher risk individuals


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