If a member of the public decided to drop in on a national physical education conference would they recognize it as a conference for physical educators and health professionals? From the physiques of its members would they see a visual interpretation of what health and physical fitness should represent? Unfortunately, the fear is that they would not. Although this is a controversial topic, the health and physical fitness of physical educators and health educators needs to be publicly addressed.
Modeling physical fitness and healthy behaviors has been a topic of discussion in the profession for decades. Arguably the most famous research on this topic was conducted by Melville and Maddalozzo (1988) who found that a high school physical educator's body fatness could affect students' ability to retain information and their intent to exercise. In addition, the teacher's perceived likeability, expertise, and appropriateness as a role model were all lower when the educator was viewed as obese. Students have also been found to score higher on health related fitness tests if they perceived their physical education teachers to be fit (Dean, Adams II, & Comeau, 2005; Thomson, 1996).
As the debate continues, whether physical education teacher education (PETE) programs should test the fitness of their students remains highly controversial. The purpose of this article is not to rehash old discourse, but rather to highlight new ideas that might improve the image of the physical education profession. Throughout this article the authors: 1) suggest that some form of fitness/health testing is necessary, 2) discuss the type of testing that could be implemented, 3) rationalize why faculty anal other kinesiology majors should be tested, and 4) suggest methods that an employer can use to encourage a healthy, fit applicant.
Why Some Form of Testing is Needed
The opinions of whether physical education majors should be required to pass a physical fitness test before graduation are quite diverse (e.g., Issues, 1992; 2001). However, many recognize that role modeling health and fitness can act as an effective form of educating. This is supported by Cardinal and Cardinal (2001) who found that of the 1,000 plus physical education students and professionals surveyed, role modeling was seen as a powerful teaching tool and that the profession should practice what it preaches. "Good teaching includes good role modeling ... since the promotion …