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Forces Testing Newsletter: 8 May 2005

WELCOME to another (long-awaited) fitness testing newsletter.

You are receiving this email because you subscribed to this newsletter from the site Rob's Home of Fitness Testing or via Yahoo-Groups!

In this newsletter:
- Changes to the fitness testing site
- testing in the armed forces

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CHANGES TO THE SITE
The fitness testing website has made monumental changes over  the last few years. If you have not visited recently, it would be  worth having another look. Not only has the fitness testing pages  been updated, it is now part of a much larger network of sports related sites, as you will see.

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TESTING IN THE ARMED FORCES

Fitness testing has been a significant component of the selection process for the armed  forces, police and many other workplaces. For the workplace in which the safety of the  workers as well as the people they are serving depends on the physical attributes of the  workers, it is easy to see that testing is needed. However, the controversy arrises as to the  validity and reliability of the actual tests performed. These testing procedures have come  under a lot of criticism, and not just by those who struggle to pass them.

An important thing to consider is the validity of these tests. How do these tests relate to  performance in the field? How does it relate to work performance in the job itself? For  example, navy personnel may do a running test, air force personnel cycling and army  personnel chins and sit-ups. For these personnel, is there better tests that more closely  reflects job performance or the identified physical demands based on their duties or core  functions? For example, a Captain of a ship would want to know how good the officers are  in responding to a fire at sea - a worst possible scenario. What is their response time? Not  how many push ups can they perform? 

A design of a specific test to assess these physical abilities may involve responding to a  critical incident like a fire, so the response may include opening and securing heavy doors  (strength), negotiating stairways and narrow landings (agility & power), run the length of a  landing (speed) all performed in protective equipment and carrying necessary equipment  (aerobic endurance). The Control phase may involve dragging out a hose, securing it and  then charging it to putting out a simulated fire or involve the use of heavy equipment i.e.  launching a life boat. And finally the removal phase may involve the dragging of a  mannequin a set distance to simulate a victim rescue. Or being the navy there maybe a  swim phase to finish to simulate escaping the ship etc. 

Such a test as described would appear to be of more benefit to staff training and safety  than performing something like sit ups. It may sound as if I am in favour of performance  tests specific to the occupation. However, specific tests to measure components of  fitness, such as speed, strength and endurance, are sometimes required to determine  where any limitations may lie. Someone may pass a general performance test using their  exceptional strength, but with a very poor aerobic endurance level. Only specific tests of  these attributes can determine someone's fitness profile.

A problem with specific tests such as push ups is how they relate to the job. For example, how many push-ups does a policeman have to perform to be able to restrain an offender? Is is right for someone not to get a job because they cannot do enough sit ups, when the  job doesn't require you to do a sit up in performing your duties. In this example, the sit up  test is performed to obtain a measure of abdominal strength, but what level gives you  adequate strength to perform your job? There are many other factors involved. There is no  simple answer, and the discussion will continue. The appropriate tests need to be  determined on an individual basis. 

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Thank you for your support of my site.

Rob Wood, Rob's Home of Fitness Testing

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