Looking for inspiration? Here are a few ideas I have for your research project in sport science - a school science project, honors or PhD project? I would love to know if you did follow up with any of these ideas.
I have created a questionnaire to measure fitness, though it has not been scientifically validated. With this test, you could determine someone's fitness without doing any physical testing, relying solely on replies to a simple questionnaire that could be completed in minutes. The format needs a bit of work, but it could form the basis of a research project, using actual fitness testing to validate such a questionnaire.
RPE Hand Scale
I have created a 5-point rating of perceived exertion scale, using only hand signals. For this RPE Scale, the subject just holds up the fingers of their hand to indicate the intensity level - from 1 to 5. The advantages of this scale over the popular Borg RPE scales are that it is simple, non-verbal and based on the 5-point Likert scale. This scale has not been scientifically tested and validated, so there is an opportunity for someone to conduct research on this topic.
Beep Testing for the Deaf
I am unaware of any fitness tests designed specifically for the deaf. Although deaf people can perform many fitness tests without modification, a very common test of aerobic fitness, the beep test, relies on audio signals so is not easy for deaf people to take part. Once you create the modified testing equipment, it will need to be validated. You will need access to some deaf athletes, there is a potential partner as discussed in a Topend Sports newsletter. See more Beep Test Research Ideas.
Effect of Environmental Conditions on Fitness Testing Results
When living in the tropical north of Australia I conducted preliminary research on the effect of the hot climate on field fitness testing results. The results from fitness testing performed outdoors may be detrimentally affected by the environmental conditions, reducing the reliability and validity of the tests, and could make it difficult to compare to test results performed in other conditions and also to testing performed indoors. The effect would be expected to differ between types of tests.
Placebo effect and exercise
Could you be convinced that "fake" training is the real thing, and have performance benefits? I don't know how you can convince a subject that they are training when they are not, but you could try treatments that have no physical benefits but the athletes do believe that they have, and consequently improve in physical measures.
How much benefit can you get by simple encouragement? Can you run for longer and lift more weight with some positive encouragement? What about the effect of music, used to motivate before exercise or during exercise to improve focus and calmness.
Sit and Reach Test Analysis
The sit and reach flexibility test — what does it actually measure? Design research to analyze the biomechanical factors of the test to see where the bending and stretching occur. This study could include a training element where different factors of the sit and reach test are specifically trained (e.g. stretching different muscle groups), then retest to see if the sit and reach test results change too.
New Fitness Tests
The details of a few new fitness tests have been provided to Topend Sports. As they are new, they have not undergone scientific study.
Do you have an idea for a research project, but do not have the resources to conduct it? You can send me your idea to have it published here, and hopefully, someone will think it is a worthwhile project. You could even be a partner in the research and get the credit for the idea.
- Fitness Testing Science Fair Projects
- Biomechanics and Physics Science Fair Projects
- Nutrition Sports Fair Projects
- Full list of research papers by Rob Wood