The SLOfit Lifelong fitness testing for adults programme

The main goal of SLOfit lifelong is to create and test the infrastructure for the exploration of the causal association between physical fitness in children and adolescents and future health outcomes based on lifelong surveillance of physical fitness and several physical activity-related health risk factors.

Understanding whether low/high physical fitness in young people is a predictor of future disease/better health status would help in resolving the debate on the benefits of preventive physical fitness activities in childhood. Consequently, proper measures would decrease public health burden of physical inactivity-related diseases. Currently, due to a limited number of prospective studies, there is inconclusive evidence for predictive validity of certain components of physical fitness on future health outcomes. In Slovenia, we have an exceptional opportunity to establish such a research infrastructure. Namely, since the physical fitness of children and adolescents has been monitored continuously since 1982, SLOfit holds data on more than 40 cohorts who have been followed for >13 years (age 6-19). However, because individuals within these cohorts were anonymised due to privacy legislation; tracking the health status of individuals later in life is not possible. 

Among other features, SLOfit Lifelong allows adult users to store collected physical fitness data. In this way, we have developed an opportunity for lifelong data collection of physical fitness and some related health data for a greater range of ages. This will enable examining the causal association between physical fitness in childhood and future health outcomes. To design and test such a research infrastructure, we developed: a) physical fitness test batteries for adults and elderly which are comparable to the tests used in the school period, and b) created a tool for health risk assessment in adults and elderly based on their values of various physical fitness components; c) added the SLOfit lifelong module within the SLOfit web platform (Slovenian version) which enables the lifelong storing of physical fitness results and other SLOfit data; and d) continue to examine the causal relationship between physical fitness in childhood and obesity (or other health risks) into adulthood.

SLOfit Lifelong creates a unique research platform for studying the predictive validity of health-related fitness in youth. Every year, a new cohort enters the physical fitness surveillance system, enabling a continuous flow of novel data. And, by studying the correlation between physical fitness, health outcomes and physical activity related health risk factors we can use an epigenetic approach to examine the direct relationship between physical fitness and future health outcomes, launching the Faculty of Sport at the University of Ljubljana amongst the top research organisations in physical activity epidemiology.