Fitness testing used for good

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Fitness testing is a useful tool for measuring fitness levels, monitoring changes in fitness and for identifying athlete strengths and weaknesses, but did you know it is also being used as an international population health indicator?
One of the world's most commonly used fitness test is the beep test. Being so widely used has enabled researchers to use collated results from around the world to compare the fitness of children from around the globe. The recently published study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found some interesting results.
They examined beep test results of more than one million children between the ages of 9 and 17 from 50 countries. The top five countries were Tanzania, Iceland, Estonia, Norway and Japan, and the least fit countries were Mexico, Peru, Latvia, the United States and Korea. Other notable results were Canada 19th, UK 21st, and Australia 35th. These results will be a wakeup call for many governments and will hopefully result in the reform of health policies and other changes.
Wouldn't it be great to have something similar for elite athletes, so we could compare athletes from different countries and different sports? The beep test (and related yo-yo test) is commonly used for elite team sports athletes, though individual endurance sport athletes are more likely to do a VO2max test. Comparing just the endurance elements of athletes would not be enough anyway. There are a few universal fitness indices that assess a range of components of fitness, but nothing that is widely used. A universal comparable fitness score is something that I would love to see.
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