Conducting Community-Partnered Cardiorespiratory Fitness Assessments with Young Adults Underrepresented in Physical Activity Research: Lessons Learned

Online Publication Date:
June 1, 2024
Publication Status:
Awaiting Publication
Manuscript PDF File:

**Forthcoming in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) 18.4. All rights reserved.**


Background: Physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) research often overrepresents White, affluent groups. Of additional concern, standard CRF testing can be inaccessible given the specialized equipment and heightened participant burden required for maximal effort fitness assessments. To address these barriers, we partnered with community-based fitness professionals and conducted field-based, submaximal effort CRF assessments among a sample of young adults enrolled in the Project EAT (Eating and Activity over Time) study. Participants were diverse in ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, and weight; these groups are underrepresented in physical activity research.

Objectives: Describe (1) the community-informed study procedures our cross-sector team used, and (2) identify community translation lessons learned from conducting accessible CRF assessments among a sample of underrepresented young adults.

Methods: Using a train-the-trainer model, community-based fitness professionals taught university-based research staff how to conduct inclusive CRF assessments. Data collection, including low-burden field tests of CRF, occurred at recreational facilities in participants’ neighborhoods. Post-data collection, community-university partners co-created study takeaways that fitness entities and researchers can use to inform future community-centered projects. Our team adapted the RE-AIM framework (Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance) to present five lessons learned from this project.

Lessons Learned: Train-the-trainer models and accessible, community-informed practices prepare research staff to evaluate CRF among participants from diverse backgrounds in a respectful, inclusive manner. Moreover, our adapted RE-AIM framework can inform future community-centered CRF assessment research.

Conclusions: Community-university partnerships can honor community-based physical activity professionals’ expertise and leverage community assets to support feasible fitness assessments for underrepresented community members.