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Field-based fitness assessment in young people: the ALPHA health-related fitness test battery for children and adolescents

Abstract

The present study summarises the work developed by the ALPHA (Assessing Levels of Physical Activity) study and describes the procedures followed to select the tests included in the ALPHA health-related fitness test battery for children and adolescents. The authors reviewed physical fitness and health in youth findings from cross-sectional studies. The authors also performed three systematic reviews dealing with (1) the predictive validity of health-related fitness, (2) the criterion validity of field-based fitness tests and (3) the reliability of field-based fitness tests in youth. The authors also carried out 11-methodological studies to determine the criterion validity and the reliability of several field-based fitness tests for youth. Finally, the authors performed a study in the school setting to examine the reliability, feasibility and safety of the selected tests. The selected fitness tests were (1) the 20 m shuttle run test to assess cardiorespiratory fitness; (2) the handgrip strength and (3) standing broad jump to assess musculoskeletal fitness, and (4) body mass index, (5) skinfold thickness and (5) waist circumference to assess body composition. When there are time limits, the authors propose the high-priority ALPHA health-related fitness test battery, which comprises all the evidence-based fitness tests except the measurement of the skinfold thickness. The time required to administer this battery to a group of 20 youth by one physical education teacher is less than 2 h. In conclusion, the ALPHA fitness tests battery is valid, reliable, feasible and safe for the assessment of health-related physical fitness in children and adolescents to be used for health monitoring purposes at population level.

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