About testing

Detailed instructions related to the fitness measurements are available in an online Test Manual. The knowledge on measurement details is pivotal to obtain valid results. Remember to foster the basic psychological needs and promote a mastery-oriented climate to facilitate enjoyment and diminish anxiety within students during fitness testing.

Body weight

Body weight is the mass of all bodily fluids, structures and tissues, including muscle and fat mass, which are vital for health and functional capacity. For accurate measures, a calibrated scale is required. Ideally the weight should be measured in light underclothes but light sport clothes such shorts and a t-shirt are also acceptable. Make sure that the child is standing on top of the scale with weight spread evenly on both feet and ensure he or she is not supporting their weight on another surface. Weight is recorded to the nearest 100 g. Example: a result of 58 kg scores 58.0. Two measurements are performed, and the mean is retained.

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Body height

Body height is measured to assess growth and body dimensions.
For accurate measures, a calibrated stadiometer is required. For the height measurement hair needs to be down, all hair accessories such as pins and bobbles should be removed. The child should stand on the stadiometer barefooted, feet slightly apart and the heels, calves, buttocks, shoulder blades, and back of the head touching, depending on the model of stadiometer, either the wall or the vertical part of the stadiometer. The child should be asked to stand straight and look straight forward, so that a horizontal line drawn from the ear canal to the lower edge of the eye socket runs parallel to the baseboard (i.e., the Frankfort plane positions horizontally). The headboard of the stadiometer should be pulled down to firmly rest on the top of the head. Record measurement to one decimal place, for example 145.5 cm. Two measurements are performed, and the mean is retained.

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Waist circumference

Waist circumference is measured to estimate central body fat.
Research has shown that high waist circumference is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Waist circumference is measured with a non-elastic tape measure. The child wears little clothing so that the tape may be correctly positioned. The child stands erect with the abdomen relaxed, the arms at the sides and the feet together. The tester faces the child and places an inelastic tape around him/her, in a horizontal plane, at the level of the natural waist, which is the narrowest part of the torso, as seen from the anterior aspect. In some obese children, it may be difficult to identify a waist narrowing. In such cases, the smallest horizontal circumference should be measured in the area between the spina iliaca superior and the costal edge in the midaxillary line. Do measure waist circumference twice, and use the mean of the two, recorded to one decimal place (e.g. 65.2 cm).

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20-m shuttle run

Having high cardiorespiratory fitness during childhood and adolescence is
strongly associated with maintaining current and future cardiovascular health. For completing the 20 m shuttle run test, you need a space that has a minimum length of 25 m. A gymnasium or similar indoor space is ideal, but the test can also be carried outdoors, if fair weather permits. A CD player with a CD or a phone and a Bluetooth loudspeaker are also needed to play the audio cues used during the test.

To begin, two lines placed 20 meters apart are marked on the ground. An audio signal (beep!) marks the start of the test. The children then run to the opposite line which must be reached before the next signal is sounded. Once the next signal sounds, the child again runs to the opposite end. The initial speed is set at 8.5 km/h and is increased by 0.5 km/h during every, approximately 1-minute stage. The aim is to follow the rhythm of the audio cues for as long as possible. The test ends when the child can't keep up with the set rhythm or feels unable to complete the one minute period. This test is conducted only once. The score is typically recorded as the last half stage the child completed, e.g., score of 6.5 stages. The total test time can also be used if a more precise measure is required.

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Handgrip strength

Musculoskeletal fitness is another important element of physical fitness.
Poor muscular fitness is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and musculoskeletal disorders e.g., back pain, as well as lower bone mineral content. Grip strength is a widely-used and time-efficient method of measuring the isometric force generated by the upper body.

A hand dynamometer with adjustable grip (e.g. TKK 5101 Grip D; Takey, Tokio Japan) is used for the measurement of grip strength. The handle is adjusted to provide an optimal grip for the child according to the hand size. See the hand size chart in the ALPHA-FIT Test Manual, p 18-19. Child squeezes gradually and continuously for at least 2 seconds, performing the test twice (alternately with both hands) allowing short rest between measures. The elbow must be in full extension and avoiding contacting with any other part of the body with the dynamometer, except the hand being measured. Both hands are measured twice. The best result is recorded in kilograms, accurate to 0.1 kg, e.g., a result of 24 kg scores 24.0.

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Standing long jump

Standing long jump is used to assess the explosive strength of the lower body.
The test begins with a start line marked on the floor. The child is asked to stand with his or her toes just behind the line with feet shoulder width apart and they are asked to jump as far as possible. Both the jump and the landing should be performed with the feet together. The correct technique is demonstrated by the tester first. The child performs two jumps, the best of which is recorded in centimetres, to the nearest centimetre (e.g., 161 cm). To help with scoring, it useful to fix the tape measure to the floor, and make some markings on the floor at each 10 cm interval. A stick or a similar pointing device can also help to mark the landing spot. To avoid injury, it is recommended that shoes be worn and/or a mat is used to cushion the landing zone.

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