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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 84-88

Determination of physical fitness index and its relation with body mass index among physiotherapy students


1 Department of Physiotherapy, School of Medical and Allied Sciences, G D Goenka University, Gurugram, Haryana, India
2 Department of Physiotherapy, School of Medical and Allied Sciences, Galgotias University, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Submission28-Oct-2019
Date of Decision06-Feb-2020
Date of Acceptance25-Jun-2020
Date of Web Publication31-Dec-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Richa Mahajan
Department of Physiotherapy, School of Medical and Allied Sciences, G D Goenka University, Sohna Road, Gurugram - 122 103, Haryana
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/PJIAP.PJIAP_25_19

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  Abstract 


BACKGROUND: The physiotherapy profession demands the therapist to engage in activities which require good amount of cardiorespiratory fitness.
PURPOSE: The main aim of this study was to determine the physical fitness index (PFI) of the physiotherapy students using the Harvard step test and to examine the relationship between the body mass index (BMI) and physical fitness.
METHODS: Two hundred and forty-two (males and females) physiotherapy students participated in this cross-sectional study. Descriptive data for age, gender, height, and weight were obtained, and BMI was calculated. PFI was measured using the Harvard step test.
RESULTS: Physical fitness was observed as poor for 84.71%, low average for 14.05%, and high average for 1.24% physiotherapy students. None of the participants had good or excellent fitness.
CONCLUSIONS: No correlation was found between BMI and physical fitness. Cardiorespiratory fitness of the physiotherapy students was found to be poor. Therefore, there is a need to motivate the students to achieve the optimal level of fitness levels. It is recommended that the students should engage in physical activities, and institutions should include the different physical activities in the curriculum.

Keywords: Body mass index, cardiorespiratory fitness, Harvard step test, physical fitness index, physiotherapy students


How to cite this article:
Mahajan R, Rawat D. Determination of physical fitness index and its relation with body mass index among physiotherapy students. Physiother - J Indian Assoc Physiother 2020;14:84-8

How to cite this URL:
Mahajan R, Rawat D. Determination of physical fitness index and its relation with body mass index among physiotherapy students. Physiother - J Indian Assoc Physiother [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jul 28];14:84-8. Available from: https://www.pjiap.org/text.asp?2020/14/2/84/305838




  Introduction Top


Fitness is a general term used to describe the ability to perform physical work. Physical fitness is not only the absence of a disease or a disabling deformity and capacity to perform a sedentary take efficiently but also a sense of physical well-being and the capacity to deal with sudden and unaccustomed physical efforts.[1] Physical fitness is an important component of human functionality in terms of health and well-being.[2] While defining the term fitness, the components such as health-related fitness (cardiorespiratory endurance, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, and body composition) and skill-related fitness (agility, balance, coordination, power, speed, and reaction time) are measured.[2],[3],[4],[5] If an individual is able to accomplish a given task or an activity with a reasonable degree of efficiency without undue fatigue and rapid recovery from the effect of exertion, then only he/she is considered to be fit.[1]

Nowadays, demand of physiotherapy profession is on escalation and requires diverse practice. The professional demands require the therapist to engage in activities such as safe handling, transferring, shifting, lifting of patients, giving various exercises (passive exercises, resistance training, etc.), gait training, and manual therapy to the patients which demand good amount of strength, endurance, and flexibility.[5],[6] It has been observed that there is a decrease in physical activity among health professionals due to a more sedentary lifestyle,[7],[8] and hence, low fitness level exists. Neither in the curriculum nor during the clinical training is any attention provided toward the physical fitness of physiotherapy students.

Previous studies have reported that physiotherapists are susceptible to various work-related musculoskeletal disorders.[9],[10],[11] Furthermore, low levels of physical activity among physiotherapy undergraduate students have been observed.[1],[5],[6],[12],[13],[14],[15] A study reported that physiotherapy students believed that role modeling is a powerful teaching tool for clients and, therefore, engagement of physiotherapists and physiotherapy students in health-promoting behaviors (such as regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, consuming fruits, and vegetables) is desirable.[16] Therefore, as the students of physiotherapy, it is crucial that the students understand the demand of the profession and their actual physical fitness and should themselves maintain a good physical fitness level to meet the demand in future as a physiotherapist.

Cardiorespiratory fitness or endurance is considered as a direct measure of the physiologic status of an individual as it reflects the overall capacity of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and the ability to carry out prolonged exercise. The key concept in testing physical fitness is that how quickly a person's pulse rate returns to normal after exercise. It is necessary that the pulse rate returns to normal after exercise, otherwise the heart is considered to be put under continuous stress.[17],[18] The Harvard step test introduced by Brouha[19] to measure the cardiorespiratory fitness is a test which is simple, commonly used, and easy to administer and to interpret.[19],[20] It is a reliable and valid test.[21]

During the student life, it is often seen that due to poor attention given to physical fitness of students, there is a decreased prevalence of physical fitness related to cardiovascular endurance. Therefore, the physical fitness index (PFI) has been used as a measure to assess cardiopulmonary efficiency of an individual.

Aims and objectives

  1. To find the PFI of the physiotherapy students using the Harvard step test
  2. To examine the relationship between the body mass index (BMI) and physical fitness.



  Methods Top


  • Study design: Cross-sectional study
  • Sample design: Convenience sampling
  • Sample size: 242 students (physiotherapy students)
  • Sample source: Galgotias University, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
  • Selection criteria:


    • Inclusion criteria: Both males and females (physiotherapy students), age between 18 and 25 years, and ability to read and understand English
    • Exclusion criteria: If not willing to participate, participants were excluded if they had any diagnosed cardiovascular or respiratory problems, any lower limb pathology and chronic diseases, and disoriented individuals.


  • Tools used: Stadiometer, weighing machine, pulse oximeter, step, stopwatch, pen, and paper.


Procedure

Two hundred and forty-two (males and females) individuals participated in the study. Participants were screened for the inclusion and exclusion criteria. A duly signed consent form was obtained after a thorough explanation of the procedure. Descriptive data for age, gender, height, and weight were obtained. Participants participated voluntarily by completing the physical activity readiness questionnaire (PAR-Q). PAR-Q investigates the safety to perform tests and the risks to display cardiac problems during their execution. The participants were excluded from the study if PAR-Q levels were low.

Body mass index

BMI was calculated by the Quetelet Index, which is a statistical measure of the weight of a person scaled according to height. It was developed in 1832, by the Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet.[22]

BMI was calculated based on the formula:

BMI = Weight in kg/height in m2

The participants were divided into four groups based on BMI: Group I (underweight): BMI <18.5, Group II (normal or healthy weight): BMI ≥18.5–24.99, Group III (overweight): BMI ≥25–29.99, and Group IV (obese): BMI ≥30.

Harvard step test[19],[23]

Participants were asked to be clothed loosely. They were asked to sit quietly for 5 min. Thereafter, they were asked to perform the stepping up and down on 20-inch high step for men[19] and 18-inch high step for women[23] for 5 min at the frequency of 30 times per min. The step used was a heavy wooden step so that it remained steady during the test. The participant performed this exercise as long as he/she could, but not in excess of 5 min. Time for which the participant can perform the test was noted. The time at which the participant felt that he/she cannot perform the test any more was taken into consideration. This time is known as the time of exhaustion. After the completion of the test, pulse rate was counted from 1 to 1½ min (pulse rate 1), 2–2½ min (pulse rate 2), and 3–3½ min (pulse rate 3).

PFI was then calculated using the following formula:

PFI = Duration of exercise (in seconds) ×100/2 (Pulse rate 1 + 2 + 3).

The fitness of the participant was graded on the basis of score of PFI as poor, low average, high average, good, and excellent.

Rating physical fitness index score

Poor <55

Low average 55–64

High average 65–79

Good 80–89

Excellent >90.

Data analysis

Data were analyzed on Microsoft Excel version 8 for making tables and bar graphs. Pearson's correlation (R) was used to test the hypothesis to determine the relation between PFI and BMI. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


  Results Top


The population of 242 physiotherapy students were tested for the determination of PFI and its correlation with BMI for the age group of 18–25 years.

Out of 242 students, there were 111 (45.87%) male and 131 (54.13%) female [Table 1] and [Graph 1].
Table 1: Gender ratio of 242 students

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Out of 242 students, results showed percentage of participants having the following BMI: underweight 40 (16.53%), normal or healthy weight 168 (69.42%), overweight 30 (12.4%), obese 4 (1.65%) [Table 2] and [Graph 2].
Table 2: The values of body mass index

Click here to view



Results showed that 84.71% of the students had poor physical fitness. None of the participants had good or excellent fitness. For 242 students, interpretation of the PFI scores was found to be poor for 84.71% (n = 205), low average for 14.05% (n = 34), high average for 1.24% (n = 3), good for 0 (0%), and excellent for 0 (0%) [Table 3] and [Graph 3]. Among male participants, distribution of poor, low average, high average, good, and excellent PFI was 81.98%, 15.32%, 2.7%, 0%, and 0%, respectively. Among female participants, distribution of poor, low average, high average, good, and excellent PFI was 87.02%, 12.98%, 0%, 0%, and 0%, respectively. No significant difference was observed between male and female physical fitness. [Table 3] shows that the physical fitness of males was better than that of females.
Table 3: The values of physical fitness index of the students

Click here to view



The Pearson's correlation (R) was used to test the hypothesis to determine the relation between PFI and BMI. It was found that there was no correlation between PFI and BMI (r = −0.058).


  Discussion Top


The present study evaluated the cardiorespiratory fitness of physiotherapy students (n = 242) using the Harvard step test and its relation with BMI. Results revealed that 84.71% of students had poor physical fitness. None of the participants had good or excellent fitness. No significant difference was observed between male and female physical fitness, but the physical fitness of males was better than that of females. The findings are consistent with the previous studies where majority of the physiotherapy students had either poor or low PFI.[1],[5],[6] In a study, the overall level of physical fitness was found to be medium to average among physiotherapy students.[13]

In the present study, majority of participants (n = 168, 69.42%) had normal BMI. No correlation was found between BMI and PFI in the present study. This finding is inconsistent with the results in previous studies that reported that BMI was inversely proportional to PFI, i.e., the fitness capacity decreased progressively as the BMI increased.[1],[17],[18],[24] The inconsistency between the findings in this study and previous researches may be attributed to the small sample size (n = 105, n = 22, n = 80, and n = 34)[1],[17],[18],[24] of previous studies.

It has been observed in previous studies that physical education students had better fitness levels than physiotherapy students[14],[15] and medical students[20] as the students of physical education students were undergoing a systematic physical training which could be a probable reason to assume that they were fitter than other students.[20] It has been suggested in previous studies as well that the physical education/activity must be a compulsory subject for college students so that their cardiovascular fitness is maintained[25] or else more sport-related competitions should be conducted so as to have a significant impact on student's health.[4]

Physical fitness specifically cardiorespiratory is an integral component to fulfill the workload and demands of the physiotherapy profession as the physiotherapy students are involved in the academic activities requiring long-standing hours during practicals as well as during their clinical postings in the outpatient department, clinics, and hospitals. Furthermore, the physiotherapists are now being employed in various fitness industries that require them to maintain optimal fitness levels to serve as role model. Thus, it becomes the responsibility of the educators of physiotherapy to emphasize the importance of inculcating physical activity in their lifestyle.


  Conclusions Top


In the present study, no correlation was found between BMI and PFI. It was found that cardiorespiratory fitness of the physiotherapy students was poor. This could be due to the sedentary lifestyle and lack of sporting activities. Therefore, there is a need to motivate the students to achieve the optimal level of fitness levels. It is recommended that the students should engage in physical activities, and institutions should include the different physical activities in their curriculum.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]



 

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