Physiological fitness can be defined as fitness relating to the physical aspects of the human body. Other than psychological and emotional fitness assessments, physiological fitness assessments involve testing a client’s cardio-vascular fitness, muscular strength, flexibility, gait, and others. This article takes a look at what physiological fitness is, when to test for it, and a few common physiological fitness tests that personal trainers make use of:
Physiological Fitness Explained
The American Society of Exercise Physiologists defines exercise physiology as:
- Identifying physiological mechanisms that underlie physical activity,
- The comprehensive delivery of treatment services that are concerned with analysing, improving and maintaining health and fitness,
- Rehabilitating heart disease, other chronic diseases as well as disabilities,
- The professional guidance and counselling of athletes and others interested in athletics and sports training, in addition to
- Dealing with human adaptability to sporadic and regular exercise.
In other words, physiological fitness is concerned with how efficiently the various systems of the body needed for exercise (like cardio-respiratory fitness, muscular strength, cardio-vascular health, etc.) work together to support the various activities performed by the athlete. Think of it as a holistic approach to exercise, where everything that affects the human body in some way or form is assessed as either complementing an athlete’s fitness efforts – or thwarting them.
When to Test for Physiological Fitness
A physiological fitness assessment, or at the very least multiple elements of one, must be the starting point for any personal trainer-client relationship. An initial assessment can be performed in conjunction with the client’s general practitioner and will give the personal trainer an in-depth understanding of the client’s current health and fitness levels.
Physiological fitness tests are also commonly administered on a periodic basis in the case of professional athletes, as well as just before and just after high-intensity sporting events. These assessments are also commonly used to determine the cause of any fitness and exercise-related barriers an athlete may be facing.
Some Common Physiological Tests
The tests administered by fitness and exercise science professionals will vary, depending on the client’s needs and aspirations. These are the most common physiological tests done as part of a physiological assessment:
– Blood pressure testing
– Cholesterol testing
– Heart rate at rest and under training stress
– Respiration at rest and under training stress
– Nutrition assessment
– Isokinetic strength testing
– Sweat composition
– Speed, agility and reaction time assessment
– Blood composition analysis
– VO2 max tests
– Body composition tests (BMI, skin fold)
– Biomechanical gait tests
When a client starts with a personal trainer, it is absolutely essential for them to perform a fitness assessment on them. This is because the trainer needs to properly gauge the level of fitness of the client so that the personal trainer doesn’t get them to do exercises that will hurt them.
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