A Comparison of Perceived Physical Fitness and Objective Measurements

Authors:
Elizabeth K. Wells, Exercise Science Department, Campbell University, Buies Creek, NC, USA
Megan L. Avery, Valencell Inc., Exercise Science Department, Campbell University, Buies Creek, NC, USA
L. Chris Eschbach, Valencell Inc., Raleigh, NC 27609
Jennifer Bunn, Department of Physical Therapy, Campbell University, Buies Creek, NC, USA

Corresponding author:
Jennifer Bunn
Campbell University, Department of Physical Therapy
4250 US 421 South
Lillington, NC 27546
910-893-1361
bunnj@campbell.edu

A Comparison of Perceived Physical Fitness and Objective Measurements

ABSTRACT
The purpose of this study sought to analyze the contribution of perceived physical fitness compared to one’s actual level of fitness. In this study, participants subjectively assessed their own cardiovascular fitness (CVF; n = 85) and body composition (BC; n = 110) on a scale of one (poor) to ten (excellent). The participants then underwent body composition testing, via 7-site skinfold, and completed a maximal graded exercise test on either a treadmill or cycle ergometer. Data from the exercise and body composition tests were compared to normative data to determine their percentile rank. Cohen’s Kappa Statistic was used to determine congruence between the predicted and observed CVF and BC values. Results indicated that the participants’ perceived BC had poor agreement (κ < 0.20), and perceived CVF had no agreement (κ < 0), when compared to actual measurements taken. These results suggest that an individual’s perception of their CVF and BC were not accurate. Similarly to how participants will provide inaccurate reports of diet and physical activity, these individuals are likely to have an inaccurate report of their fitness level. While most research suggests these discrepancies are due to pressures from society and a desire to conform, other research demonstrates that society is uneducated and unable to report an accurate fitness level. Keywords: body composition, cardiovascular fitness, maximal oxygen consumption, fitness

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