Health Assessment & Functional Testing

health-assessment-functional-testingMedical doctors, fitness gurus and media outlets all advise potential new exercisers to get a health assessment prior to starting a new exercise routine. Many adults ignore this advice assuming it does not apply to them. But regardless of age and fitness level (which people tend to overestimate), it is wise to approach a new exercise program with knowledge of one’s overall capacity.

A medical professional or a specially trained fitness instructor should do a health assessment. However, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), some fitness businesses have tended to move away from incorporating assessments and simply use a self-administered questionnaire. While not everyone agrees on what a comprehensive health assessment is, there is universal acceptance that one is useful for the general population, and mandatory if there is a indication of a medical problem that might be adversely effected by physical exercise.

Types of Health Screening

A typical health assessment performed by a medical professional usually includes a measurement of the patient’s vital signs such as, blood pressure, heart rate and cardiovascular fitness, all measured at rest as well as after moderate exercise. A doctor may also include an echocardiogram or an electrocardiogram, and in some cases, a cardiac stress test. Anyone who has been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, or is at risk for it, should have such tests prior to engaging in physical activity. A comprehensive screening might also include an evaluation of the patient’s body mass, flexibility and muscle strength. The assessment provider can decide what parameters are appropriate based on the patient’s history and the type of exercise program.

A functional assessment is more comprehensive and in addition to the above, also focuses on the patient’s perceived level of health, lifestyle, nutrition, activity, sleep patterns and other indicators. With this type of assessment, major body systems involved with exercise, including respiratory, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal systems are evaluated for functionality.

Fitness testing and Assessment

Aside from testing with a medical professional or fitness instructor, several services are available that can help with a personal evaluation.

BodyQ (, uses a system of franchised clinic locations that perform functional assessment with an integrated program that evaluates movement, general health, vision, hearing, balance, and exercise recovery.

Optojump ( is an optical measurement system that measures performance using cameras and control electronics during a series of jumps. Its dedicated software records a series of parameters connected to the athlete’s performance in real time with high accuracy. While designed primarily to help train athletes for competition, it is also used to measure starting parameters for beginning athletes.

Keeping Track of Health and Progress

Keeping track of progress and overall health can often be a daunting process. One application that provides some help with this is called Qure4u ( It stores personal health data in a private on-line account retrievable from any location. Qure4u works with a variety of Apps and health devices, making it easy to collect and upload data directly.

Playing it Safe

For some individuals, particularly those with pre-existing conditions, a health or fitness assessment should be performed by a medical professional that has some knowledge of the patient’s history.

It is an important screening tool that everyone planning to start a fitness training program should consider. When performed properly, an assessment can help uncover symptoms of cardiovascular and other conditions that might be compromised by physical activity. For individuals that already have medical conditions, a comprehensive assessment provides key information to regulate the intensity of a fitness program, and thus, safely avoid potential adverse events or injury.

Author bio: James Occhiogrosso is a Natural Health Practitioner specializing in male and female health issues and author of the book “Your Prostate, Your Libido, Your Life.” Connect with him at 239-498-1547, email, or visit where you can also sign up for his free “Health Naturally” newsletter.