A brief history of exercise clearance and prescription: 2. Canadian contributions to the development of objective, evidence-based procedures

Roy J. Shephard


Objective. The aim of this 2-part article is to provide a brief chronicle of the development of exercise clearance and prescription procedures over the past century. Part 1 considered the era when medical interest in exercise was limited, and any advice from physical educators and kinesiologists was based largely upon pulse rate recovery curves. Part 2 considers the development of objective, evidence-based procedures for exercise screening and prescription that began in the 1960s, with a particular emphasis upon the contributions of Canadian exercise scientists. A new interest in fitness and physical activity was sparked by a speech given to the Canadian Medical Association by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1959. This article begins by considering his comments and the reactions of the Federal government. It notes the resulting establishment of 3 Fitness Research Units across Canada, looking specifically at the Toronto Fitness Research Unit and its objectives. The goals of the Toronto unit included not only academic research and the establishment of doctoral and post-doctoral programmes in exercise science, but also many "applied" research tasks: increasing interest of the medical profession in physical activity, preparing for assessments of national fitness, benchmarking existing national levels of fitness, and clarifying the risks of vigorous exercise. These objectives led to the development of a simple and effective exercise screening procedure (the PAR-Q test), and the development of procedures for mass fitness testing (particularly the Canadian Aerobic Fitness Test, CAFT). We conclude this segment of our history by documenting evolution of both the PAR-Q and the Canadian Aerobic Fitness Test to their present objective, evidence-based and computerized format.


Bill C-131; Canadian Aerobic Fitness Test; Epidemiology; Exercise safety; Exercise testing; Fitness Research Units; PAR-Q test, Population testing; Test standardization

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ISSN: 19206216