Girth / Circumference Measures

Girths are circumference measures at standard anatomical sites around the body, measured with a tape measure. Girth measurements can be used in determining body size and composition, and to monitor changes in these parameters.

equipment required: flexible metal tape measure and pen for marking the skin. If a plastic or cloth tape is used, it should be checked regularly against a metal tape as others may stretch over time. The MyoTape is useful for the self-assessment of girth measurement.

pre-test: Explain the test procedures to the subject. Prepare forms and record basic information such as age, height, body weight, gender. See more details of pre-test procedures.

procedure: First mark the sites to be measured. When recording, you need to make sure the tape is not too tight or too loose, is lying flat on the skin, and is horizontal. For descriptions of the procedure for measuring specific girths see the list below.

sites: Below are some common sites used for girth measurements. Click on the link for a detailed description and photograph of the measurement being taken

validity: Girth measurements are sometimes used as a measure of body fat, but is not a valid predictor of this. They are however a good measure of proportionality.

measurement ruler

reliability: Things that may affect reliability are changes to the testers, constant and even tension on the tape, and correct landmarking (finding the correct anatomical sites for measurement).

advantages: low costs involved in the testing procedure, and for many sites the measurement can be self administered.

other comments: Girth measurements combined with skinfold measurements can give a clearer picture of changes in muscle and fat compositions and distribution. A common girth measure is the waist measure, used in determining waist to hip ratio (WHR).

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