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Fitness Testing Newsletter: Environmental Conditions

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In this newsletter:
- FEATURE ARTICLE: How important to fitness testing are the  environmental conditions?
- Poll results

ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS

How much does the environmental condition affect the reliability of  our test results?

We are always concerned about the reliability and validity of the  tests we perform. For testing done indoors, such as the multitude of  laboratory tests, this is not of concern. The laboratory should be  kept at a constant moderate temperature and humidity, often around 21-23 degrees Celsius, and 30-50% humidity. However, for tests performed  outdoors, such as the many field tests performed for sports, the  environment can have a big impact on the results. 

For those who live in a hot environment like myself, it is clear that  the heat and humidity can significantly affect field testing results,  reducing the reliability and validity of the tests, and therefore  making comparisons of test results difficult. Equally, the cold  temperature conditions that some of you live in would also affect the  field test results. 

The purpose of testing is to determine whether improvements have been  made in the aspects of fitness being measured by the test. In order  to truly determine this, we should be considering moving fitness  testing session indoors and/or changing the time it is conducted to  avoid any adverse conditions. This will not always be possible,  especially if you have a sport specific test that needs to be  conducted on the surface and in the conditions that they play.

I have been involved with some research on this matter. A study was  conducted which looked at the effect of the hot environment on field  testing items such as speed, power, agility, and aerobic fitness,  comparing the tests performed outdoors in 31 degrees Celsius and 78%  humidity to indoors in 25 degrees Celsius and 51% humidity. For the  aerobic test, the 20m shuttle run test was used, and a mean  difference of nearly half a stage was found. For the tests of speed,  power and agility, there was no difference. Also, his study found the  higher thermal stress while testing outdoors caused an increase in  body temperature and greater sweat losses, and higher blood lactates  and heart rates in some tests. As can be seen, the reliability of  test results would be compromised with these effects.

So, if possible, you should avoid these adverse conditions. If they  are unavoidable, the environmental conditions should be recorded, and  their possible effect should be part of the considerations when you  interpret the test results.

POLL RESULTS

In reply to the poll question about who you would rather have in your basketball team, someone who could block everything or someone who could shoot and score from anywhere, the results came out in favour of the shooter, 583 votes (29%) to 243 votes (71%). The comments to this mind boggling poll were very interesting. Check out the Poll Comments.

Thank you for your support of my site.

Rob Wood,

Rob's Home of Fitness Testing

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