The method for fitness assessment
Fitness Score device provides you with a powerful tool for fitness evaluation that helps the personal trainer to design an individual program, track the client’s progress and improve his or her fitness score. The assessment is based on analysis called Heart Rate Variability. This method has been recognized by today’s physiologists as a reliable indicator of fitness level. What is Heart Rate Variability? Our heart rate is constantly fluctuating, and the intervals between heart beats vary in length. These fluctuations in heart rate are known as Heart Rate Variability. Assessment based on Heart Rate Variability analysis is scientifically proven to monitor functional integrity of the body and give an accurate fitness evaluation. Please note that the results of the evaluation should be interpreted by a qualified fitness professional depending on each individual case. NOTE: Algorithm for fitness evaluation was created as a part of Nerve-Express system and validated by Columbia University study with excellent result, see www.nervexpress.com.
Parameters for Fitness Score Assessment
- Functional capacity is ability of all regulation mechanisms, first of all Autonomic Nervous system properly maintain simple intervention to the body for instance lying-to-standing test(orthostatic test).
- Adaptation reserve of the body depends of 2 major components:
- CHMR – chronotropic myocardial reaction which is actually ability of the myocardium to increase Heart Rate in response on lying-to-standing intervention. CHMR directly related with the energy of a myocardium cells;
- Compensation response of the peripheral vascular system on lying-to-standing intervention.
The express fitness test
The test takes only 3-4 minutes and can be performed anytime, anywhere: the client is simply required to rise from lying to standing position. After this short test the results are immediately displayed on the screen.
During the test the heart rate data is recorded and displayed in the special graph, called Rhythmographic strip, or rhythmogram, shown above.
Each vertical blue line corresponds to the interval between two consecutive heart beats: the length of the line reflects the length of the interval, in seconds. During the test the blue lines are added on the horizontal axis and form the rhythmographic strip. This graph shows one’s heart rate fluctuations during the whole test, or one’s Heart Rate Variability portrait. The fitness test, called Orthotest includes 3 stages:
1. the Supine stage, when the client is lying on his or her back;
2. the Transition period, during which the client is changing position from lying to standing;
3. the Upright stage, when the client is quietly standing for a couple of minutes.
On the picture of the rhythmogram you can see three regions that reflect three stages of the test. The first 192 blue lines (heart beats) correspond to the Supine stage of the test, the next 64 blue lines to the Transition period, and the last 192 blue lines show the Upright stage of the test.
The fitness score
The fitness test score is displayed on the Fitness Chart. This chart graphically represents the results of the quantitative analysis of the client’s Heart Rate Variability during Orthostatic (lying-to-standing) test. This chart is the “instant snapshot”, immediately demonstrating the client’s fitness and functioning rating.
Our fitness depends on the ability to mobilize the body’s resources in response to physical stress. The fitness score is a combination of Functional capacity and Adaptability levels.
Functional capacity is a component of fitness that reflects how well one’s body functions as a whole system .
Functional capacity is an indicator of general well-being, and may vary in response to stress and changes in lifestyle.
Heart Rate Variability reflects functional integrity of the body and is an excellent indicator of the wellness level. Variations in heart rate create a wavelike structure of the rhythmographic strip.
Usually better Functional capacity levels result in more perceptible waves in the “portrait”, and it’s correspond with optimal variability level , calculated by Fitness algorithm. High level of Optimal variability can be called “the dance of the healthy heart”(see picture with excellent rhythmographic strip). This good impression was created by Dr. Ari Goldberger(Harward Medical school) for excellent Healthy Heart Rate Variability case, but Fitness score algorithm can mathematically calculate it based on analysis of the spectral function components of R-R intervals variability. You can compare the rhythmogram of a well-trained athlete and an untrained individual below. As you can see, in the first case, the variations in heart rate are more detectable while in the second case the rhythmographic strip is almost flat: the beat-to-beat intervals are of the same length. A well planned exercise program can help you achieve your optimal wellness level.
Adaptability is the measure of efficiency of cardiovascular system in response to physical activity. This component of fitness shows the ability of the heart and the rest of circulatory system to adapt to physical loads. The “stronger” one’s cardiovascular system, the higher the level of adaptability. This component of fitness can significantly improve with the right exercise program as well as with diet.
These two components of fitness are complementary yet essentially different, and are assessed in two distinct ways. The level of Functional capacity is determined by analysis of Heart Rate Variability during the stationary phases of the test: the Supine and the Upright stages. The level of Adaptability is determined by the Transition period of the test. If you compare just the transition part of the rhythmographic strip of a well-trained and an unfit person you can see how the two curves are different. The basic rule is that the steeper and the deeper the transitional curve, the higher the adaptability level.
Functional capacity and adaptability levels do not directly depend on each other. A person with low ability to adapt to physical loads may still be able to efficiently manage stress in general. This combination would correspond to a low level of adaptability and a high level of Functional capacity. However, in the majority of cases these two aspects of fitness show significant correlation, and higher levels of adaptability correspond to higher Functional capacity, indicting higher fitness overall.
If a client is not at his or her top performance level, an effective, well-designed exercise program with a personal trainer will result in a noticeable increase in the level of adaptability, and, if combined with the healthy lifestyle, in improved Functional capacity.
The fitness chart shows 13 levels of Functional capacity on the vertical axis, #1 being the highest and #13 being the lowest possible level. There are 7 levels of Adaptability, which are displayed on the horizontal axis; with #1 is the highest level and 7 being the lowest possible level.
The chart contains three distinct zones selected with different colors:
- the dark blue zone in the top right corner corresponds to athletic fitness levels;
- the light blue zone in the middle of the chart reflects average values of fitness in the general population,
- and the red zone in the bottom left-hand corner represents very poor fitness levels that are below normal.
Your client’s fitness score is marked with the yellow dot. For example, the figure on the right below shows a fitness score of a athletic fit person. His Functional capacity level of 2 is almost excellent among the general population. His adaptability level of 1 is really athletic level.
Interpreting test results
The test results are displayed on the screen so that you and your client can view his or her fitness score. However it is important that interpretation of the results is performed only by a fitness professional. The results should be interpreted depending on the client’s base fitness level, his or her age group and health condition. The same fitness score can indicate an improvement for one person and be a sign of over-training for another individual. Individual clients should not change the training program based on the score alone, but should always consult with their personal trainer or exercise physiologist.
Only a fitness specialist would be able to decide whether the training program should or should not be altered and choose an optimal solution for improving the client’s fitness. Two other cases shown below first one related with average level 7/3 on blue area and decreased Fitness level 10/5 – below blue area.
If the fitness score is at the lowest levels of wellness and adaptability (within the red zone), this is a warning sign and needs immediate attention. The client should not exercise on the day when such a result is detected and is advised to consult a fitness or health care professional before engaging into any physical activity.
Detecting over-training and under-training
The fitness assessment with Fitness Score device can detect any of these conditions that adversely affect the client’s performance and fitness level. In both over-trained and under-trained persons the fitness score is significantly reduced and are shifted towards the bottom left-hand corner as shown on the pictures below. THE MARKERS OF OVER-TRAINING At the early stages over-training is typically marked by a reduction of the Functional capacity with the retention of normal adaptability level.
At the exhaustion stage the reduction of the wellness level is usually accompanied by a significant reduction in adaptability. The figures on the right show an athlete’s response to over-training.
You can compare his fitness scores at his normal state, at the early stage of over-training and at the state of exhaustion.
The test results should be interpreted by a fitness professional only who is qualified to make a conclusion whether the test detected over-training or under-training.
Detecting effect of other factors
A reduced fitness score can also reflect a client’s response to other common factors such as stress at work or in other aspects
of life, and even to increased alcohol or coffee consumption. Compare the fitness results of the same person before and after alcohol consumption(see examples below with pre- and -after alcohol consumption):