Exercise Tests for Children

Girls in ballet class posing together

With the average child getting 7-1/2 hours of screen time daily, it is not hard to see why only one in three children get the minimum amount of physical activity each day.

Few children get the recommended 60 minutes or more of daily exercise that will help them to develop good fitness habits as adults. Exercise fitness testing can give a baseline for your child’s current level of fitness, to establish goals for them and show their progress over a period of time.

One battery of children’s exercise tests called the President’s Challenge, has been used by schools and communities for over 55 years. After the completion of the five exercise tests, you and your child will have an idea of where he would need to improve and motivate him to become healthier.

Strength and Endurance Tests

There are two exercise tests that will measure strength and endurance for children – curlups and pullups.

Curlups measure the strength and endurance of the abdominal muscles. Strong abdominal muscles give good posture and support the spine. This test is performed with your child lying on his back, feet on the floor and knees bent. Hands are crossed at the chest. On start, your child will raise his upper body and curl up until the elbows touch the legs. They are timed for one minute and only completed curlups are counted. At the end of one minute, count the number of curlups your child was able to perform in one minute.

Pullups measure upper body strength and endurance. This test is performed using a horizontal bar that would allow your child to hang his feet off the floor. Using either an overhand or underhand grasp, your child would raise her body and pull up until her chin clears the bar. You would count each time she would complete a correct pullup and lower back to the original position.

Agility and Cardio Endurance Tests

The shuttle run and endurance run/walk are exercise tests that measure speed/agility and heart/lung endurance. These two tests are timed with a stopwatch.

As a speed and agility test, the shuttle run is set up by marking two lines 30 feet apart and placing two objects behind one of the lines. Starting on the line opposite the two objects, your child would run to the other line. Picking up one of the objects, he runs to the other line and places the object down behind the line. He runs back to the other line, picks up the object and places it behind the line with the other object. Running back to the other line, stop the time when he crosses the line.

For the endurance run walk, record the amount of time it takes him to run a mile. If he gets tired running, he can walk but should try to run as much as possible.

Flexibility Test

The V-sit reach test measures the flexibility of the hamstrings and lower back. While sitting on the floor and legs in a V, have your child extend and reach as far as possible. She will have three practice attempts for this exercise test. On her fourth reach, have her hold for three seconds while you record the distance.

Scoring Results

Scores for each exercise test is based upon gender and age, from age 6 to 17.

After completing the exercise tests, you can see if your child scored at or above the 85th percentile, at or above the 50th percentile or below the 50th percentile according to the President’s Challenge normative data spreadsheet to compute his scores.

Discuss this information with your child and offer helpful ways to become more active. Join as a family and watch your child increase his desire to become more active