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Title: Fitness testing in physical education – a misdirected effort in promoting healthy lifestyles and physical activity
Authors: Cale, Lorraine
Harris, Josephine P.
Keywords: Fitness
Fitness testing
Physical activity promotion
Physical activity
Healthy lifestyles
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: © Routledge
Citation: CALE, L. and HARRIS, J., 2009. Fitness testing in physical education – a misdirected effort in promoting healthy lifestyles and physical activity. Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 14 (1), pp. 89-108.
Abstract: Background Physical fitness testing is commonplace within schools and the Physical Education (PE) curriculum, with advocates claiming one of the key purposes of testing to be the promotion of healthy lifestyles and physical activity. Despite this, much controversy has surrounded the fitness testing of young people. Purpose This paper draws on selected findings of a recent ‘fitness testing children feasibility study’ to explore the key issues, concerns and debates regarding fitness testing, as they relate to encouraging a physically active lifestyle. Research Design The feasibility study was commissioned by the National Assembly for Wales and involved two main parts: a comprehensive review of literature (using metalib) to establish the key findings/issues, and consultation with key ‘stakeholders’ and ‘experts’ to ascertain their views, understanding and experiences of fitness testing children. The consultation was carried out via questionnaires and interviews. Data Analysis The key issues and themes emerging from the literature from 1985 onwards were identified and served as the evidence for the debate. The questionnaire and interview data were analysed by quantifying the questionnaire responses and identifying the common issues and themes emerging from the transcripts (and the open items within the questionnaires). These were then used to reinforce, substantiate and illustrate key points. Findings The findings reveal that the role fitness testing plays in PE in promoting healthy lifestyles and physical activity is questionable and cannot be taken for granted. For example, little evidence was found to support the notion that fitness tests promote healthy lifestyles and physical activity, motivate young people, and develop the knowledge and skills that are important to the sustained engagement in an active lifestyle. Conclusion Based on the evidence, the paper concludes that much of the fitness testing carried out in PE may well represent a misdirected effort in the promotion of healthy lifestyles and physical activity, and that PE time could therefore be better spent.
Description: This article was published in the journal, Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy [© Routledge]. The definitive version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17408980701345782
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1080/17408980701345782
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/4443
ISSN: 1742-5786
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences)

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