Age Group Fitness Testing

Many of the tests described on this site are designed for testing the fitness of sports people, particularly young adults. There is also a great need to test those not at that level, such as primary school children and the elderly. Fitness testing should not be avoided, as for some populations it can be useful as a screening device and to help devise fitness programs to suit special needs. Here are some of the factors to consider when testing people from specific groups such as the elderly, the unfit and the young.

Considerations

People not used to activities may need more instruction, longer warm ups and cool downs. Extra assistants may be required to help monitor and record results.

Elderly

Any person older than 35 years of age, particularly anyone overweight or with a history of high blood pressure and heart disease, should consult a physician before undertaking any vigorous testing. Make sure that a medical clearance has been given. The Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PARQ) is a medical screening questionnaire that is commonly used. When testing, make sure that medical assistance and first aid supplies are close at hand, and adequate resuscitation equipment should be available nearby. See more about Testing for the Elderly.

Children

It would not be appropriate to fitness test anyone younger than school age. Basic fitness tests such as those used for the fitness assessment for school age children is the FitnessGram. There are more school age test protocols described on the testing for specific groups page. See more about Testing Children.

Tests

There are some tests specific for particular groups, while other tests may need to be adapted. The running distances, times or weight used can be decreased or equipment may need to be modified. Maximal endurance testing is often not suitable for elderly populations due to the health risk of excessive stress on the heart. There are several alternative tests to the maximal endurance tests, such as the Rockport Walk test or the Groningen Walk Test. If walking is not possible, the Step in Place Test or a sub-maximal cycle test such as the PWC170 test may be used. The health tests are designed for testing the general population, are important for monitoring elderly populations, and are regularly used by the medical fraternity.

Results

Comparing the test results to normative values is important in the interpretation of results. Firstly, you must ensure that the norms used are for same test protocol, which may not be the case if you have modified the test for the special population being tested. The norm group would also be of the a similar age group and population sample.

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