Physical fitness has traditionally been associated with young adults through to the middle-aged population. However, it is important to monitor fitness and encourage activity from an early age. There are several programs that have fitness testing protocols designed for assessing school age children, such as the President's Challenge in the USA. Testing children younger than school age would not be appropriate.
Some Testing Programs for School Age Children
- FitnessGram — designed to assess the fitness levels of children in grades K-12
- Presidents Challenge — fitness award program for school age children in the United States (now using FitnesGram)
- Connecticut Physical Fitness Test — a fitness assessment given annually to all students in grades 4, 6, 8, and 10 in the US state of Connecticut.
- International Physical Fitness Test — a battery of tests developed to test Arab youth aged 9 to 19 years.
- National Physical Fitness Awards — a series of tests of physical fitness for the children of Singapore.
- ALPHA-Fit — designed to assess the health-related fitness status in children and adolescents of the European Union.
- Eurofit — a testing program devised by the Council of Europe for children of school age.
- Personal Fitness Merit Badge — a fitness test battery conductd by Scouts
- Kraus-Weber Test — a test from the 1950's in the USA which started the school testing regimes.
The tests that are used in the assessment of the fitness of school age children have been carefully selected to be appropriate to their level. Some tests been adapted using lower weights, distances and times, and using simple instructions and modified equipment, while there are others are the same test procedures as used for adults.
Here are some tests that have been designed specifically for testing the young, or are common tests that have been modified to suit testing of children. There are many other tests on the complete Fitness Testing List that would also be suitable for testing children.
- Body Mass Index — in a world where excess weight in children (and adults!) is becoming a bigger problem, it is important to monitor body fat levels. The body mass index takes into account the child's height, and is therefore better than just using body weight.
- Flexed Arm Hang — This test measures upper body relative strength and endurance. It has been adapted from the chin up test, as children and those with weak upper body strength are not able to do any chin ups at all. This test involves grabbing an overhead bar with arms bent and chin at the level of the bar, and trying to hold this position for as long as possible.
- Chair Push Up — Another test of upper body strength and endurance, this variation of the push-up test places the hands on the edge of a chair so that there is less upper body resistance.
- Sit and Reach Test — The sit and reach test measures the flexibility of the lower back and hamstring muscles. The test involves sitting on the floor with legs out straight ahead, and then reaching as far forward as possible.
- Partial CurlUp Test — The sit up or curl up test measures abdominal strength and endurance. The child lies on the floor with knees flexed. The subject curls up their trunk then lowers back to the floor, repeating this as many times as they can.
- 10 meter Agility Shuttle — agility is tested by moving wooden blocks between two lines 10 meters apart.
- Endurance Walk Test — The purpose of this test is to complete one mile in the fastest possible time, either walking or running.
- Beep Test — The beep test is a maximal exercise test to measure aerobic fitness. It involves running up and down a 20m track in time to increasingly faster beep signals. It is a maximal test, which means that the person must run until they are physically exhausted. There is no reason children should not be doing a maximal exercise test (it is more a problem for adults with sedentary lifestyles and other health issues doing the test with no preparation!). The test can be a great motivation tool for children to improve and learn to push themselves. Kids are pretty hardy things and there is no need to be soft on them!
- For infants, height can be measured using recumbent height.
- FAQ about fitness testing children
- Poll: What age is appropriate to start fitness testing children?
- Brockport Physical Fitness Test (BPFT) — health-related tests of physical fitness, appropriate for use with youngsters with disabilities.
- Fitness Testing for Specific Groups and Age Group Testing
- Testing the Elderly
- Fitness Testing for the Obese and Overweight