Questionnaire: Is Your School Years Child Active Enough?
Answer these questions to find out how in shape your school years kid really is. Plus, get healthy eating tips, exercise ideas, and more ways to shape up with Parenting’s Fit Generation!
This assessment, which Westcott put together exclusively for Parenting, is largely based on the Cooper Institute's FITNESSGRAM. It's what schools use most often to gauge how in shape kids are. The aim is simply to give you an idea of where your child is, fitness-wise: What are her strengths? What can she work on? This baseline will allow both of you to see and celebrate her achievements. So keep this handy, and have her try it regularly.
1. What's her body mass index? BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. You can find out your child's BMI using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's calculator at Cdc.gov. Be sure to note her BMI-for-age percentile as well; it tells you how she compares to her peers.
BMI stats: __________
2. How many curl-ups can he do? Have your child lie on his back on the floor, knees bent, feet flat, and arms by sides, palms down. Next, ask him to lift his shoulder blades off the floor, keeping his palms on the floor and sliding them forward (like a sit-up, but without coming all the way to a seated position).
3. How close can she get on the sit-and-reach? Ask your child to sit on the floor, with one leg extended in front of her; her foot should be flexed and pressed up against a hard, flat surface (like a wall or kitchen island). Her other knee should be bent, foot flat on the floor. Have her extend her arms in front of her, resting one hand on top of the other, and reach her fingertips as far as she can toward the wall. Measure the remaining space (in inches) and jot it down. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Left leg: ______
Right leg: ______
4. How strong is his back? Tell your kid to lie facedown on the floor; his legs should be extended and his arms by his sides, palms up. Have him lift his head, chest, and shoulders off the ground as high as he can, keeping his gaze straight ahead. Take a ruler and measure the distance in inches from the floor to his chin.
Trunk lift: ________
5. How many push-ups can she do? Have your child do full push-ups: elbows bent about 90 degrees when she lowers down and arms straight at the top of the exercise. Stop counting when her form gets shaky (she doesn't lower all the way or she can't hold her body in a straight line anymore).
6. How active is your child overall? How much time did your kid spend this week being active (walking the dog, playing tag with friends, practicing softball)? And how much time was spent on things like watching TV or playing video games? Try to keep careful track for a week; be sure to check in with the sitter, too, so you don't miss out on any big chunks of time.
|Monday||Inactive time ____||Active time _____|
|Tuesday||Inactive time ____||Active time _____|
|Wednesday||Inactive time ____||Active time _____|
|Thursday||Inactive time ____||Active time _____|
|Friday||Inactive time ____||Active time _____|
|Saturday||Inactive time ____||Active time _____|
|Sunday||Inactive time ____||Active time _____|
|Total time:||Inactive time ____||Active time _____|
1 Is your child's BMI in the normal range? If it's high, that doesn't mean she's necessarily unfit. A few kids fall outside the normal measurements, especially those who may have matured earlier and are more muscular but aren't that tall yet. If that's not the case, however, a high BMI does raise her risk for a host of health problems. Talk to your pediatrician about ways to bring it down; and stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of Fit Generation, where we'll give you tons of healthy-and safe-advice on upping kids' activity levels and getting them hooked on healthy food, too.
2-5 Compare your child's stats to the charts below; each shows what's considered fit at different ages for boys and girls. The first number shows the lower end of the "healthy" range -- and the second is the upper, überfit category.
6 The AAP recommends 60 minutes of activity, five to seven days a week. If your child didn't get that much, take a look at how much free time he spent on the inactive stuff -- comparing the total time for each can be a real eye-opener that helps you make some adjustments for the better.