Recommendations on measuring children's fitness levels

By WEEK Producer
By NBC News

Recommendations on measuring children's fitness levels

September 27, 2012 Updated Sep 28, 2012 at 10:15 AM CDT

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Measuring children's fitness levels has always been an imperfect science, but new recommendations from the Institute of Medicine may help.

A committee of experts says measuring a child's cardio-respiratory endurance, body composition, and muscular strength gives the best picture of overall fitness.

They recommend using a shuttle run, where kids sprint back and forth between two points to measure cardio-respiratory endurance or a cycle and treadmill test.

They suggest handgrip strength and the standing long jump be used to assess muscle strength, but conclude measuring flexibility is not necessary.

The committee says calculating a child's body mass index is the easiest way to determine body composition, including waist circumference and skinfold thickness.

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