Introducing Health-Related Physical Fitness
Joseph P. Winnick, Ed.D.
Francis X. Short, P.E.D.
State University of New York, College at Brockport
The testing and assessment of the physical fitness of school-aged youngsters in the United States has been going on for several decades. Originally these tests strictly focused upon identifying physical fitness status and comparing the results of youngsters with others (norm-referenced). Beginning in the 1970s, there became considerable interest in health-related tests of physical fitness in which results attained by youngsters are compared with criteria representing positive health (criterion-referenced) rather than simply on score comparisons with others. For example, the results related to running one mile or percentage of body fat are compared with levels representing positive health rather than with the scores of others - which may or may not reflect positive levels of health.
The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) published its first health-related test in 1980 and in 1996 endorsed the health-related physical fitness test entitled FITNESSGRAM developed by the Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research (CIAR, 1992) as its recommended test of health-related physical fitness for school-aged youngsters. This endorsement continues today and is particularly important since AAHPERD is America's largest professional group of physical educators and is very influential on practices in schools throughout the United States.
Although attention has been and continues to be given to the development of health-related physical fitness tests for nondisabled youngsters, until recently no comprehensive health-related criterion-referenced tests had been developed for use with youngsters with disabilities. Between 1993 and 1998, the U.S. Department of Education funded Project Target to establish a health-related test of physical fitness for youths (ages 10-17) with disabilities. This project resulted in the development of the Brockport Physical Fitness Test (BPFT) - a criterion-referenced health-related test of physical fitness appropriate for use with youngsters with disabilities. The test recommends test items and health-related criterion-referenced standards for youngsters with intellectual disability, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, blindness, congenital anomalies and amputations and recommends a process to develop tests appropriate for youngsters with other disabilities and health-related needs.