Test your whole-family fitness with these simple tests for strength, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and more.
It’s never too early to give your children a love of exercise. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of video games, computers, and other electronic media, you may need to do more coaxing and cajoling than ever before. You may also be concerned with their level of fitness.
Luckily, there are some simple fitness tests you can use to measure your kids’ health — and even make it fun for them. “These fitness assessments help children get in tune with their bodies and experience physical challenges,” says Noelle Rox, an ACE-certified personal trainer and Pilates instructor. “It is important to keep the tests simple to focus on the positive rather than the negative and help kids develop a positive attitude toward physical activity.”
For bonus fitness points, try these tests alongside your kid for a fun, whole-family fitness assessment. Most tests are appropriate for kids ages 5 and up.
Walk the Plank for Balance
This is an easy and fun test for kids to try. “A flat balance beam on the floor or simply walking a line drawn or taped on the floor works great,” Rox says.
How to do it: Have your child place one foot in front of the other and try to stay in as straight a line as possible as he makes his way across the “plank.”
Scoring: If he makes it across without any missteps, it’s a sign of good balance. More mistakes means more practice is needed to focus on maintaining balance.
Super Moves for Strength
Rox gave this test its name so that kids will feel empowered to see all the cool things their bodies can do — just like a super hero.
How to do it: Super Moves consists of three phases: First, holding your child’s feet, see how many situps she can do in one minute. Then have her do as many modified pushups (with knees on the floor) as she can in 1 minute. Finally, have her jump next to a wall and reach as high as she can three times in a row.
Scoring: The more situps and pushups a child can do and the higher she can jump, the stronger she is. Same goes for adults.
Sit and Reach for Flexibility
This is a tried and true fitness test that still works well for measuring an important part of kids’ overall health and fitness. This test is appropriate for ages 5 and up.
How to do it: Have your child sit with his legs extended and reach out as far as possible. Repeat three times. Measure how far he is able to reach, either in front of or beyond his toes.
Scoring: The further your child can reach, the more flexibility he has.
Running for Cardiovascular Strength
A key gauge of kids’ health is to perform a fitness test that involves running. It doesn’t have to be a full mile — even a shorter distance can give you a sense of where different children stand. Kids who are 6 or 7 should be able to run a quarter mile; kids who are 8 or 9 can run a half-mile.
How to do it: Have your child run 1 or 2 laps around a standard track. Time her efforts and do a “talk test” with her afterward to see how much she truly exerted herself. “Often that empowers kids to realize they could do more or need to work harder,” Rox says.
Scoring: A faster time on the fitness test equals greater cardiovascular health.Curl-Up Test for Muscle Endurance This variation on the sit-up can provide another key measure of kids’ health. This test is appropriate for ages 6 and up.
How to do it: “Children lie on their back with their legs up in the air at a 90-degree angle,” says Chris Cianciulli, an exercise specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine. “Hands are placed flat on the floor, and they curl (or crunch) up until their shoulder blades come off the floor. They complete as many repetitions as they can.”
Scoring: More repetitions done in one minute means a greater amount of muscle endurance.