The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Fitness Tests - Do They Do What They Claim?

A number of conventional standardized fitness tests, surprisingly, are not accurate. They do not test what they claim to test. To get real answers that you can use, it is important to know if you are doing what you think you are doing.

An example of a test that does not test what it claims is the "Sit and Reach" test. Sit and Reach is assumed to test hamstring flexibility, but is more a measure of how much you can round your spine. Many people can pass the Sit and Reach with little hamstring flexibility and an unhealthful angle at the hip - tilted back (shown by shorts side seam) rather than vertical. The Sit and Reach is required testing for numerous military, corporate, and school fitness programs

Another standard fitness assessment uses crunches or sit ups, supposedly to test abdominal muscle function. Bending or curling forward does not give a predictive measure of how well you can use your abdominal muscles to adjust your spine position for spine health, for sports ability, to prevent back pain, in short, to move in healthy ways in real daily life and work where you need it most.

A test may be reliable, which means it gives the same answer each time you test the same thing. For example, a scale should measure the same item at the same weight each time. A reliable scale may not be accurate. That means, it may be wrong by the same amount each time. But it does give the same answer reliably. Having a reliable test does not mean it will be accurate. Accuracy and reliability are both necessary components of devising tests that are actually helpful.

I worked years researching more prognostic and beneficial tests for several common fitness measures. If your military or police division, school, or industry wants to hire me to train you in simple new reliable and accurate tests, let me know.


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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.