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Active Families Research Project
Active Families Research Program

Health related fitness

The health-related fitness assessment is designed to measure the child's physical fitness. It includes four different tests that measure endurance, strength and flexibility. The tests are part of the Canadian Health Measures Survey, a health and fitness assessment of over 20,000 Canadians six to 69 years of age, that is currently being conducted in cities and towns across Canada by the staff of Statistics Canada. These tests help us to understand the endurance, strength and flexibility abilities of children who have had treatment for their heart problems in comparison to children across Canada of similar age.

The four tests included in the health-related fitness assessment are:

Modified Canadian Aerobic Fitness Test (endurance test which is also referred to as the ‘step test’)

The modified Canadian Aerobic Fitness Test is performed by walking up and down a set of two steps in time to music. The music continues for three minutes, and the child is asked to step up and down the steps in time to the beat of the music. When the music stops, the child stands still and the heart rate is measured. Depending on how fast the child's heart rate is, the child may or may not repeat the stepping activity for another three minutes at a slightly faster speed. The child's heart rate and blood pressure will also be measured before the stepping activity and for five minutes after the stepping has been completed.

Hand Grip (test of upper body strength)

The hand grip test is a measure of upper body strength. The child holds the dynamometer, which is a special handle that accurately measures how hard the child can squeeze. The child holds the hand in one hand with their arm straight and the handle just to the side of their leg or hip. The child then squeezes the handle as hard as possible using only one hand and the result is recorded. The child then squeezes the handle as hard as possible with the other hand. A second try with each hand is also performed to see if the score will be higher on a second attempt.

Partial Curl-Up (test of abdominal strength)

The partial curl-up test is a measure of abdominal strength. The child starts lying down on the mat on his/her back. The mat has two lines marked on it, 10 centimetres apart. The child lies down so that the fingers are just touching the line closest to the head. The child has both arms at the side of the body and the legs are bent so that the feet are flat on the floor. Then the child lifts his/her head and shoulders and reaches 10 centimetres towards her/his toes to touch the second line, before lowering the head and shoulders back to the mat. The number of repetitions that can be completed in a row, up to 25, is recorded.

Sit and Reach (test of flexibility)

The child sits on the floor with the legs straight out in front. The feet are placed up against the edge of a step on either side of a measuring ruler. While keeping the knees straight, the child bends forward as far as possible by sliding both hands along the ruler. The best result from several attempts is recorded.