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Margaret J. Safrit

The measurement of physical fitness in children and youth has long been a topic of interest to physical educators, exercise scientists, health agencies, and private organizations dealing with sport and fitness. In recent years the focus on problems in measuring fitness has become more intense due to a number of factors, in particular the need for adequate surveillance studies and the perceived lack of fitness education in the schools. The purpose of this paper is to examine the scientific evidence that supports the use of measurement techniques for fitness evaluation. Physical fitness is described as a scientific construct that is multifaceted. A rationale is presented for the development of an operational definition of fitness that provides a basis for the identification of components of fitness to be measured. The latest versions of national fitness tests are described and compared, and evidence of the reliability and validity of the test batteries as well as individual subtests is summarized. Finally, several issues associated with fitness testing are discussed. These include the use of criterion referenced standards, the development of norms, and the use of fitness tests in a school setting. Although many improvements in tests and testing practices are noted, research is needed on a variety of problems.

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Margaret J. Safrit, Terry M. Wood and Rod K. Dishman

Sonstroem's psychological model for physical activity offers a testable theory for understanding certain aspects of involvement and outcomes among adolescent boys. The usefulness of the model for other populations cannot be clarified, however, until the psychometric properties of its technology, the Physical Estimation and Attraction Scales (PEAS), are known for the groups studied. As a step in this direction, the factorial validity of PEAS responses among college males (N = 488) and females (N = 347) was examined. An independent group of college females (N =413) was also sampled to examine the general ability of the initial findings. These results revealed a robust factor of items that apparently tap perceptions of general physical competence and a perceived strength factor. These emerged across samples and analyses and were not gender-specific. Investigators using the PEAS with adult populations should consider its unique factor structure in the process of testing Sonstroem's physical activity model. Psychometric research regarding revision of the PEAS for adult populations is recommended with the aim of reducing instrument length while maintaining construct validity and measurement precision.