Developers of fitness test batteries should calculate age- and gender-specific cut-points (cutoff scores) to determine whether individuals are at risk of fitness-related poor health outcomes by applying the general guidance in Chapter 3 to specific fitness components.

One of the uses of fitness measures is in the assessment of youth populations through statewide or national surveys. Chapter 2 provides a brief history of fitness testing and an overview of national fitness surveys (Tables 2-1 through 2-5) and a list of surveys currently in use in the United States and other countries (Table 2-6).

As its statement of task requested, the committee reviewed the evidence for tests for four components of fitness that historically have been recognized as health related using the methodology described in Chapter 3. The scientific rationale for the committee’s selection of tests based on their relationship to health and their validity, reliability, and feasibility is given in Chapters 4 (body composition), 5 (cardiorespiratory endurance), 6 (musculoskeletal fitness), and 7 (flexibility). This chapter provides the committee’s conclusions and recommendations regarding fitness test items to be included in a battery for use in a national survey. In presenting these conclusions and recommendations, the committee emphasizes that a national youth fitness survey should be implemented in schools by skilled national survey administrators (i.e., those familiar with the procedures for conducting large surveys and the protocols for fitness testing). Although this report does not include recommendations for specific fitness test protocols, the committee recognizes the need to develop standardized protocols for field-based tests for youth to enable meaningful comparisons of results from different studies and surveys.


As discussed in Chapter 2, no national fitness survey has been conducted since the 1980s. However, the currently active National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) includes components pertinent to physical fitness, such as body composition, cardiovascular fitness, and physical activity (Morrow et al., 2009). This set of fitness tests was recently extended for youth, and a 2012 NHANES Youth Fitness Survey is currently under way. The survey includes the following test items: body mass index (BMI), arm length and circumference, waist circumference, skinfolds, and whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans

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