Is Fitness Testing Right For Me?

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Many individuals have questioned if their exercise program was working at some point in their life. Should they be doing more of a particular kind of exercise to enhance their performance or weight loss journey? Is there a way they could better achieve the results they desire?

From high-performance endurance athletes to weekend warriors to recovering couch potatoes, fitness testing is one way to track the results of a training routine, get advice on how to up your fitness game, or simply receive a baseline measurement of where you’re at on your wellness journey.

“Fitness testing is a way for individuals to evaluate their current level of fitness and motivate them to train at a higher level, all while providing them with detailed training parameters specific to their current fitness level,” says Pamela Webert, an exercise physiologist at Henry Ford Health System. “It is useful tool to meet people where they are at in their fitness journey and give them a bit of a road map to take it to the next level.”

One factor that fitness tests commonly measure is aerobic endurance (VO2max), which is the body’s peak oxygen consumption at maximal exercise and a key indicator of endurance. Fitness testing can also gather information regarding strength and flexibility.

Whether you’re a peak endurance athlete or someone who is determined to get back in shape after an exercise hiatus, fitness testing can be useful to help you outline your goals and understand your body better as you continue with training. For some athletes, undergoing fitness testing on a regular basis is what works for them as they work toward a goal like completing a marathon or making a certain time in a cycling race. For others, coming in once to get a baseline analysis of their fitness level is sufficient.

“Fitness testing is not just for 'athletes,'  it can be a useful tool for all types of exercisers,” Webert says. “It’s not only a great way to jump start your fitness routine, but can also give the seasoned athlete that extra competitive push to train harder and smarter.”

Fitness testing isn’t a new phenomenon. Coaches, personal trainers, gyms and other exercise facilities, and even medical centers offer various types of fitness tests for athletes.

“There are many methods of fitness testing depending on what aspect of physical fitness (aerobic, strength or flexibility) one desires to be assessed,” Webert says. “Most individuals are interested in having their aerobic capacity tested, which can be done by sophisticated methods at a medical facility such as Henry Ford, or in a fitness facility that uses less technical field testing, but nonetheless still beneficial to the casual exerciser.”

Before starting any exercise routine, especially if you haven’t been active in a while, it’s important to see your primary care provider to ensure you are healthy enough for physical activity. Injuries, sprains and pains can happen to even the most seasoned athletes, so it’s important to know your limits to keep your body healthy.


Interested in fitness testing? The Henry Ford Human Performance Clinic, in collaboration with the Multidisciplinary Sports Program, offers a comprehensive cardiovascular screening and performance evaluation for all athletes. Call (313) 972-4039 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

For more advice on staying active and fit, check out our MoveWell section.

Pamela Webert is an exercise physiologist who sees patients and athletes at the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine in Detroit.

Categories: MoveWell