Introduction to Fitness Assessments
What are fitness assessments?
Fitness assessments are a combination of tests that help assess a person’s health and fitness levels. The five fitness categories that can be tested are cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance, body composition, balance, and flexibility.
Why are fitness assessments important?
Fitness assessments are important because they assess current fitness levels and help to develop appropriate exercise prescriptions for individuals. They also help screen for heart and other chronic diseases and secondary conditions. Fitness assessments can be used as both educational tools and motivational incentives for clients, aiding in promoting individualized health and fitness goals.
Why are fitness assessments important for people with disability?
It is well-known that individuals with disability have a higher prevalence of and/or risk for obesity and many other adverse secondary conditions than those without disability. Fitness assessments can play a key role in providing the fitness professional with ample opportunity to screen for potential red flags or contraindications specific to each client. While this may be seen as the role of a physician, often times physicians concentrate on other aspects of clients health and fail to mention the important role exercise can play on health and current risk levels. It then becomes the fitness professional’s role to inform their clients about risks. Fitness assessments can also help illustrate how your client is able to function and his or her mobility within an exercise environment. Finally, fitness assessments help gather information in order to develop the fitness program that will best meet and satisfy clients’ individual goals and abilities. It is important to remember that health and disability may go hand in hand; even though an individual has a disability, they may still be in optimal health and in fact an elite athlete. In this case, fitness assessments can play an important role in determining the athlete’s appropriate training intensity and fitness levels.
Fitness Assessments Defined
Cardiovascular: Tests ability to perform dynamic exercise at moderate to high intensities, utilizing large muscle groups for prolonged periods of time.
Musculoskeletal: Tests both muscular strength and endurance. Muscular strength testing assesses the person’s strength in one repetition or one attempt at the most weight they can lift, press, or push. Muscular endurance testing tests how long a person can hold, curl, or press a certain amount of weight.
Flexibility: Tests a person’s range of motion in his or her functional muscles. Most commonly used muscles to test are shoulders, hamstrings, and trunk muscles.
Balance: Tests a person’s base level of balance and functional ability.
Body Composition: Measures a person’s physical proportions and potential areas of improvement. Various assessments can test body fat percentage and weight, lean mass percentage and weight, girth measurements, and bone mineral density.
Using This Toolkit
This toolkit will enable the fitness professional to be able to effectively conduct fitness assessments for individuals with a disability. Continue to the next page to watch a video series on how to conduct these tests.
Click to download this toolkit in PDF.
This toolkit was created in partnership with: