Updated: Jul 11
In all countries of the world, the healthcare system whether opulent or penurious has laid out the framework for testing physiological dysfunctioning of human body competently but still physical fitness testing or assessment for the general population has not gained enough attention in developing nations such as India. Since long, the government defense organizations, sports authorities, educational institutions, and some private companies for employees have set their Benchmark for Physical Fitness and had been carrying out assessments to measure performance and competence of individual but hardly we can spot any general public fitness evaluation set-up in India.
There is a paucity of literature related to physical fitness and inactivity in India. The major criteria for “good health” that most perceive in Indian society is an ideal height-weight ratio, lack of disease and sound working of the body. Also, most are unaware of universal benchmarks and definition.
What is Physical Fitness ?
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) gives the following definition of health-related physical fitness: Physical fitness is defined as a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity. It is also characterized by:
(1) An ability to perform daily activities with vigor.
(2) A demonstration of traits and capacities that are associated with a low risk of premature development of hypokinetic diseases (e.g., those associated with physical inactivity). What does the statistics says?
As per The World Health Statistics-2012 report released by WHO, one in three adults worldwide, has raised blood pressure and one in 10 adults has diabetes. Also, 12% of the total population are obese. In the same Report, WHO also makes a prediction that one out of every three Indians will either be a coronary patient or a diabetic by 2030. Given the fact that, a majority of the population are in the youth category below the age of 35 years, WHO’s prediction for 2030 has to be addressed at national level urgently. Apart from the enumerated social implication, the same will also have huge financial implications. As per report of Working Group on Disease Burden for 12th Five Year Plan WG-3(2) : Non Communicable Diseases – Among non-communicable diseases (NCD), Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) account for 52% of mortality. The potentially productive years of life lost (PPYL) due to CVDs in the age group of 35-64 was 9.2 million into 200 and is expected to rise 17.9 million in 2030 – again comprising of that segment of the population that is in the school going age bracket currently.
Since the majority of deaths are premature, there is a substantial loss of lives during the productive years in India as compared to other countries. Heart diseases, stroke and diabetes are projected to increase cumulatively, and India stands to lose 237 billion dollars during the ongoing decade starting 2005. Why is An Annual Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) needed?
1. It’ll help healthcare professions co-relate the medical/pathological tests with the physical fitness test and reach to more a accurate diagnosis.
2. To prevent ailments affecting productivity and quality of life such as low back pain, knee pain, obesity, general body weakness, etc.
3. To create awareness among masses regarding physical fitness and how it affects health and ADLs. 4. To develop strategies for improvement of fitness level. 5. To collect data and use it for further study and research. 6. Will prevent sedentary behavior by giving people the status of their fitness level.
Physical Fitness Screening should be included in preventive healthcare strategies and to be widely available for community people to undergo just like routine health check-up or dental check-up. However, there is no uniform national battery of tests that could be applied and evaluated throughout the country and therefore national quantification of Physical Fitness would require uniform and standard testing parameters as well as the grading system. Personal perspective-
Every individual. Be it healthy or unhealthy, obese or anorexic, sportsman or person having a desk job. Male, female or LGBTQ. Young or old. Knowing about own fitness level/physical performance level is insightful. Results of tests can be stored, monitored, tracked, used for comparison and new strategies can be devised from it to improve performance.
Resources and references:
1. Bhattacharya PK, Deka K, Roy A, Saikia H. Normative Values of Physical Fitness Test in the Elderly: A Community Based Study in an Urban Population in Northeast India. Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research. 2017 Oct 1;11(10). 2. National physical fitness programme for school children draft, Available from https://www.yas.nic.in/sites/default/files/File1116.pdf