Witness the fitness

You may be healthy, but are you fit? Find out with new tests available online

Being healthy isn’t the same as having physical fitness. When it comes to measuring physical performance we need to rely on standard tests, and this is where technology comes in.

By using the tools offered on the Department of Physical Education (DPE) website, individuals and organisations can appraise their fitness.

The innovative tool was developed by DPE in conjunction with Kasetsart University. It took seven years to collect data from more than 30,000 children and youths and more than 50,000 adults throughout the country.

In order to test your physical fitness, users are required to register to access the system. There are three "Physical Fitness Test" categories available: for children of aged four to six and seven to 18, adults aged 19-59, and senior citizens 60-89 years old. The physical fitness test comprises five components including muscular endurance, muscular strength, circulo-respiratory or cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and body composition.

“This is the first programme of its kind in Thailand and it meets the national standard appraisal as it has been developed from the integration of sport science and physiology and all the criterion were based on the data of Thai people nationwide,” said Supitr Samahito, from the Faculty of Sports Science, Kasetsart University.

Physical fitness of small kids is based on the performance of their basic skills. “According to the research that we have run for years, small kids are able to run zigzag very well and this can be an index to signify the performance of movement, speed and balance of children,” Supitr said, adding that such capability declines once the people grow up.

For children and youths, there are seven items for testing motor ability, including balance, power, agility, speed, movement time, reaction time and coordination. For adults and senior citizens, the test mainly focuses on the ability to balance.

With the tools available on the website, individuals can perform at home with minimal equipment. To measure flexibility, for example, they can use with “sit and reach” test. However, for an organisation or business that wants to measure employees’ physical performance, some equipment is required.

Chanvit Phalajivin, DPE deputy director, said that people at 40 years old can look healthy, but their physical performance might be equal to those 50-60 years old, while a 50-year-old might have the score of a 40-year-old. Physical fitness, therefore, is different to being healthy. For example, if you are tired after walking upstairs just for 10-20m, you should have your physical fitness checked.

“Some people are healthy and also [have] good physical performance. That’s good,” Chanvit said, adding that everyone should have the chance to test themselves. Sport science is not just for athletes — it serves everybody.

In the past, it was difficult for the public to access information and knowledge, but now everyone can get the information, according to DPE director-general Saengchan Varasumanta. She said that the programme, which is developed from the largest samples, was created to promote physical education, health, sport, recreation and science to people around the country.

“The working team is now conducting a comprehensive study of Asean based on this project and will expand the network between Thai people and other nations,” said the director.

Visit www.dpe.go.th, go to ‘Database of Sport Science’, then the ‘Physical Fitness Test’ menu.

About the author

Writer: Sasiwimon Boonruang
Position: Life Writer