Self-Reported Physical Fitness of Older Persons: A Substitute for Performance-Based Measures of Physical Fitness?

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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To evaluate the validity of self-report measures of physical fitness as substitutes for performance-based tests, self-reports and performance-based tests of physical fitness were compared. Subjects were a community-based sample of older adults (N = 624) aged 57 and over. The performance-based tests included endurance, flexibility, strength, balance, manual dexterity, and reaction time. The self-report evaluation assessed selected individual subcomponents of fitness and used both peers and absolute standards as reference. The results showed that compared to performance-based tests, the self-report items were more strongly interrelated and they less effectively evaluated the different subdomains of physical fitness. Corresponding performance-based tests and self-report items were weakly to moderately associated. All self-report items were related most strongly with the performance-based endurance test. Apparently. older people tend to estimate overall fitness, in which endurance plays an important part, rather than individual subcomponents of Illness. Therefore, the self-report measures have limited validity as predictors of performance-based physical fitness.

M.J.G. van Heuvelen and M.H.G. de Greef are with the Department of Human Movement Sciences, University of Groningen, Bloemsingel 10, 9712 KZ Groningen, The Netherlands. G.I.J.M. Kempen is with the Northern Centre for Health Care Research, University of Groningen. J. Ormel is with the Departments of Psychiatry and Health Sciences, University of Groningen.