Fitness Testing and Program Design
This is an excerpt from Fitness Professional's Handbook 8th Edition With HKPropel Access by Barbara A. Bushman.
By Barbara A. Bushman and Lauren R. Cheney
Steps Following the Screening Process
With the information gathered within the preparticipation and health screenings, and assuming medical clearance is either not required or has been obtained, the fitness professional can move forward working with the client.
Administer Fitness Tests and Evaluate Results
The next step of the health appraisal involves administering and evaluating fitness tests. When combined with the HSQ, the test results provide greater insight into an individual’s current level of physical fitness. Common measurements obtained before fitness testing are HR and blood pressure (BP), percent body fat, waist circumference, and flexibility. Next, a submaximal graded exercise test can be conducted to determine how the participant’s HR, BP, and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) respond to gradually increasing exercise workloads. Additional fitness tests may be used to determine muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and functional fitness. Chapter 7 includes an overview of testing, and other chapters in part III include fitness testing procedures. Indications for stopping an exercise test are discussed in detail in chapter 8 and include the participant complaining of chest pain, inappropriate BP or HR responses, pronounced shortness of breath at low exercise intensities, signs of poor perfusion, or severe fatigue (8). If symptoms suggestive of CVD occur during fitness testing, the fitness professional should stop the test and seek medical assistance if needed. Medical clearance would be recommended before conducting additional exercise testing or permitting the client to begin exercising in the facility. The results of the fitness tests can be compared with normative data based on the participant’s age and sex (8) or can simply be tracked over time to chart progress. The fitness test values, combined with the participant’s medical history and exercise goals, should serve as the framework for the exercise prescription.
Develop an Individualized Exercise Prescription
At this point, the fitness professional should be prepared to address the next step in the health appraisal process: setting up the exercise prescription by following current guidelines (8). An appropriate exercise prescription considers a person’s health status, personal goals, and fitness test results. Chapters in part IV of this textbook address exercise prescriptions for aerobic fitness, muscular fitness, flexibility, and neuromotor function for generally healthy adults. In addition, chapters in part V provide background on exercise prescription for special populations.
Evaluate Progress With Follow-Up Tests
The participant’s exercise goals and health status are certain to change over time, which necessitates the last step in the health appraisal: evaluating progress with follow-up tests. Fitness tests should be repeated periodically and a health screening readministered. Follow-ups involving fitness tests and updates to the participant’s health status serve several purposes: documenting the participant’s health and fitness progress, identifying any changes in health status or response to activity, and indicating whether changes in the exercise prescription or level of supervision are necessary (8). No specific guidance exists on the timing of follow-up testing. Follow-up fitness tests may be conducted 2 to 3 months after the participant has been exercising regularly, with biannual testing thereafter. For established exercisers, annual testing may be sufficient to provide feedback on training status.
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