These tests are essential in the screening process in order to determine the suitability of the individual to participate in a physical activity program. It is recommended that these tests are performed immediately after the client has completed their screening questionnaires and prior to beginning other aspects of physical activity testing.
Standing barefoot with heels, back and head against a wall, the person’s height is measured from the floor to the top of their head. A variety of tape measures are available for use in this test. Most important is to ensure that the measurement is perpendicular to the ground.
The client must be barefoot and wearing as little clothing as is practical. They then stand on a calibrated scale. Record the reading given by the scale. It is important to try, as best as possible, to wear the same amount of clothing each time the weight is measured, to ensure consistency.
3. Body Mass Index (BMI)
The Body Mass Index is represented as the Weight divided by the square of the Height.
BMI = Weight / Height2
The result will give a comparison for healthy body weight.
It is important to note that resistance/strength training will very quickly make this reading invalid, as muscle mass increases. So, it is more for those not already involved in this type of training program.
- Underweight = <18.5
- Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
- Overweight = 25–29.9
- Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
4. Resting Heart Rate
One of the most basic tests, which can be done by anyone, this test gives a baseline for comparison of how hard the heart is working. It is represented as the number of beats per minute, and can be tested at a number of sites on the body. The most common of these is the radial pulse (wrist). Two others that are very commonly used are the carotid pulse (neck) and dorsopedal pulse (top of the foot).
Procedure: Once the pulse is felt, using the first two index fingers, the beats are counted for a specified time. The most commonly used time is fifteen (15) seconds. But, ten seconds can also be used, as well as the full sixty. When using a shorter time space (10 or 15 seconds) the first beat felt is counted as zero. This is to prevent double counting between time spaces (i.e. the last beat of 15 seconds will usually be the first beat of the next 15 seconds). The number of beats is then multiplied by four (if using 15 seconds) or six (if using 10 seconds) to get the number of beats in a minute (60 seconds).
A heart rate of 72bpm is widely considered to be average. Fitter individuals will typically have a lower heart rate, and vice versa. It is always important to remember the effects of medications on heart rate, though.
5. Blood pressure
Another of the very simple tests, blood pressure can be performed by nearly anyone. Manual and automatic sphygmomanometers are widely available.
Procedure: If using an automatic one, place the cuff snugly on the right arm, and press start. The machine will do the rest, and give you the readings, when it is done.
When using a manual cuff, there is a little more work to do. Again, place the cuff snugly on the right arm, just above the elbow, with the palm turned to face upward. The arm should be supported, or resting on a table or some other surface. Place the stethoscope over the brachial artery (usually found in the crease of the elbow), and put the earpieces into your ears. Ensure the valve on the bulb of the sphygmomanometer is close, and inflate the cuff by repetitively squeezing the bulb. Do this until the arm is constricted enough that you cannot hear a pulse with the stethoscope. Then, slowly deflate the cuff, by releasing the valve. Record the pressure reading of the first beat you hear, and continue deflating, recording the reading of the last beat you hear, as well. Then, complete deflate the cuff, and remove it. The first beat recorded is the systolic reading, and the last is the diastolic reading.
While there is no ‘normal’ or ‘ideal’ blood-pressure reading, the following figures can be used as a guide:
• low blood pressure – below 90/60
• normal blood pressure – generally between 90/60 and 120/80
• high–normal blood pressure – between 120/80 and 140/90
• high blood pressure – equal to or more than 140/90 (usually classified as hypertensive)
• very high blood pressure – equal to or more than 180/110.
6. Waist-to-hip Ratio
A measurement of the circumferences of the waist and hip region. These circumference measurements are used to calculate a ratio (waist/hip), which is presented as a decimal figure, I.e. Waist (80cm) / Hip (102cm) = 0,78.
This measurement is used to provide an indication to adipose tissue distribution. Since research has shown that higher distribution of adipose tissue around the abdominal region is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
The following measurements indicate a high risk of cardiovascular disease:
- Male = > 0,95
- Female = > 0,82