pediatric housecalls Robert R. Jarrett M.D. M.B.A. FAAP

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Children’s Fitness: The Bleep Test

Assessing Children’s Health and Fitness
The “bleep” test, the “beep” test, the “Multistage Fitness Test” (MSFT)

The test had its beginnings in Britain to quantify the fitness level of children and sports team participants. Its popularity has grown world-wide and it is now used by major league teams as a requirement of participation, not to mention military units, the FBI, schools and other venues where fitness is a job requirement. Many other “clones” of the test have been developed (such as the yo-yo test) but all of them are pretty much the same measurement of the body’s ability to utilize oxygen and get it to its cells.

For those of you who wish to have a copy of the test to use in your family, an MP3 file is downloadable below.

Setup of the bleep test

The “game” or “exercise” is easy to set up and just as easy to perform (except for the running part) but it does need some explanation to those you want to administer it to. The tape uses “beeps” to time the exercise. You start the tape and don’t stop it until the last person taking the test has dropped out. Ostensibly to the highest level it takes just over 20 minutes; but no one has been verified as completing it even though several have claimed to do so. Most fit individuals reach their maximum around 10 minutes, only professional level athletes make it above level 12 or so (there are 21).

Give the instructions, start the tape, wait for the first set of three beeps and runners begin at a pace “just fast enough” to arrive at the cone where they wait until the next beep sounds and they start back. They run back and forth at the same pace waiting at the end for the next beep until another series of three beeps indicate the “next level” and the pace picks up. So, it’s back and forth to the time of single beeps until three beeps announces the next level of faster pace.

The “players” continue until maximal effort is reached with encouragement from the onlookers. The idea is to keep going until they have been “late for the beep” two times in a row and their score becomes the last level that they reached on time. Everyone in the family will be different and playing the game will improve both the score and fitness. Here is a video of a college professor teaching students how to administer the test.


So, what to expect at the various ages for “fitness?” Barring preclusive physical impairments here are the charts for boys and girls 9 through 17. Children younger than nine can run to the beeps but really shouldn’t do so under pressure. Developing a love for how their bodies feel when they’re fit and active should be the FIRST agenda. Nine is early enough to begin the challenge of competing with one’s self for improvement as the SECOND agenda. Physical competition against others should be left for sometime AFTER 12 as the THIRD agenda.



Percentile < 5 5-20 20-40 40-60 60-80 80-95 >95
Age very poor poor fair average good very good excellent
9 < 2/2 2/2-3/4 3/5-4/4 4/5-5/4 5/5-6/4 6/5-7/7 > 7/7
10 < 2/2 2/2-3/5 3/6-4/5 4/6-5/5 5/6-6/6 6/7-8/1 > 8/1
11 < 2/2 2/2-3/6 3/7-4/7 4/8-5/8 5/9-6/10 7/1-8/6 > 8/6
12 < 2/2 2/2-3/8 4/1-5/1 5/2-6/4 6/5-7/6 7/7-9/3 > 9/3
13 < 2/4 2/4-4/2 4/3-5/6 5/7-6/9 6/10-8/3 8/4-10/1 > 10/1
14 < 2/6 2/6-4/5 4/6-6/1 6/2-7/4 7/5-8/9 8/10-10/9 > 10/9
15 < 2/7 2/7-4/7 4/8-6/3 6/4-7/7 7/8-9/2 9/3-11/3 > 11/3
16 < 2/8 2/8-4/9 5/1-6/6 6/7-7/10 8/1-9/6 9/7-11/8 > 11/8
17 < 3/1 3/1-5/2 5/3-6/8 6/9-8/3 8/4-9/9 9/10-12/1 > 12/1


Percentile < 5 5-20 20-40 40-60 60-80 80-95 >95
Age very poor poor fair average good very good excellent
9 < 2/2 2/2-3/1 3/2-3/8 4/1-4/6 4/7-5/4 5/5- 6/6 > 6/6
10 < 1/7 1/7-3/1 3/2- 3/8 4/1-4/7 4/8-5/6 5/7- 6/8 > 6/8
11 < 1/6 1/6-2/8 3/1- 3/8 4/1-4/8 4/9-5/8 5/9-7/1 > 7/1
12 < 1/5 1/5-2/8 3/1-4/1 4/2-4/9 5/1-5/9 6/1-7/3 > 7/3
13 < 1/5 1/5-3/1 3/2-4/1 4/2-5/1 5/2-6/1 6/2- 7/5 > 7/5
14 < 1/5 1/5-3/1 3/2-4/1 4/2-5/1 5/2-6/2 6/3- 7/6 > 7/6
15 < 1/5 1/5-3/12 3/2-4/2 4/3-5/2 5/3-6/3 6/4-7/7 > 7/7
16 < 1/5 1/5-3/1 3/2- 4/2 4/3-5/2 5/3-6/3 6/4-7/8 > 7/8
17 < 1/5 1/5-3/1 3/2-4/2 4/3-5/3 5/4-6/4 6/5- 7/9 > 7/9

Finally, if you’re still with me, here is a summary chart of the entire test levels and shuttles on each level. It shows the relative speed the child is running (km/h) at each level as well as times and distances.


Bleep test summary information


Children’s Health: Less Healthy Than 50 Years Ago

Your grandparents and great-grandparents are always the shortest ones in all your family photos, right? It’s the same with all of us.

Your kids are taller, better fed and wealthier than your grandparents; so, why are today’s children LESS healthy than 50 years ago? Children’s health has actually gotten worse!
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James Parkinson: Social Activist and Advocate, Parkinson’s Disease and Palentology

Dr. James Parkinson was born on World Parkinson’s Disease Day, April 11th 1755, in London, England. Of course he didn’t know it at the time. Come to think of it, neither did his parents; nor the fact that he would become one of the 50 most influential doctors of all time.

Affecting an estimated 1% of people over 60 years of age, what has come to be known as “Parkinson’s Disease” is one of the most common neurologic disorders known today.
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Doctor’s Talking About Puberty and Sex

It seems that talking about puberty and sex is one of most every doctor’s LEAST favorite tasks. I know that because some research projects have studied the subject in patients of all ages with diseases of all types and by doctors of all specialties.

Well, it shouldn’t really surprise any of you because it’s your least favorite talk with your kids too (assuming you’re a parent)—and they’re YOUR kids.
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John Snow: Water Pumps, Cholera and Epidemiology

I live in no fear that telling you Dr. John Snow is one of history’s top 50 influential doctors will give even the slightest concern.

If it does, it means you really have no clue that he was the one who basically took Cholera off the front page of every newspaper and gave the world toilets, sewer systems and public works departments—world-wide.
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10 Medical Breakthroughs Unaccepted At First – Part Three

I read an article recently about the many medical breakthroughs the world would have missed if the detractors, naysayers and just plain and simple evil-intentioned haters had their way; and I decided to turn it into an article.

I’ve mentioned nine so far in the previous two parts including: Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis who was basically killed for suggesting his colleagues wash their hands; the vitriol made public by the new fangled internet against Dr. Prusiner over disease caused by proteins; and, the delay in cancer therapy caused by the “good ol’ boy’s.”
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10 Medical Breakthroughs Unaccepted At First – Part Two

In part one I already confessed to being in a profession full of egos which, like it or not, sometimes get in the way of rational consideration of things new or which are going against long used practices.

And I even asserted that pediatricians don’t have as much trouble with that as other specialists; proposing, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that it was because we were all used to dealing with adolescents whose very body language conveys that every adult around them “just doesn’t have a clue.”
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Joseph Kirsner: Colon Cancer, IBS, Educator, Doctor

It’s one thing to live 102 years and witness two generations of medical advancements and still quite another to be the one who made many of those advances!

Further, it’s even more unusual when the Decagenarian set out to do nothing but “be a good doctor” yet ended up with over 750 articles, 12 books and, get this, TWO lifetime achievement awards—why not he saw almost two lifetimes come and go.
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10 Medical Breakthroughs Unaccepted At First – Part One

Unfortunately, I’m in a profession where egos flair at the drop of a hat either through overwhelming skepticism, inordinate caution, debilitating fear of being wrong or as yet some unknown neurological or psychiatric condition.

I wish I was smart enough to write a definitive article on that, it would do the world a favor.

But I’m not, so this is not about that; it’s about the unfortunate result of all that—the often adolescent refusal to accept new knowledge when it is presented.
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Immunization Strategy – What The Anti-Vaxxers Don’t Want You To Know

The Immunization Strategy
HIV and Influenza What The Vaccine Haters Don’t Want You To Know

Malaria, smallpox, Polio and some other 30 odd diseases have been controlled by substantial immunization programs — which, it seems, the vaccine-haters didn’t want to happen.

Sitting here in the 21st century, most of us really don’t have a clue how much real suffering humanity has endured in all aspects of their lives since the beginning of time, from malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia, diarrhea, influenza… and the list goes on.

Historical evidence reveals that even less than 100 years ago parents were so demoralized by the amount of uncontrollable disease that they were reluctant to even give their newborn infants a name until they had “proven” that they would make it through life for a couple of year! Can we comprehend what that must have been like?

Then there was the spark of hope when Smallpox seemed to be controllable—Polio, Diptheria, Tetanus… all through immunization efforts.

Seth Berkley is an epidemiologist and the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the global health organization protecting lives by improving access to vaccines in developing countries. [No, they are not pharmaceutical salesmen—they don’t make money from production or sale of immunizations.]

With more than half a billion children immunized, he is leading Gavi’s efforts to reach a further 300 million children in the next five years and build sustainability into country immunization programs.

Prior to Gavi, he spearheaded the development of vaccines for HIV as founder and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

#40 Lawrence (Larry) Einhorn (1942-)

Our number 40, of the top 50 most influential doctors in history, is Dr. Lawrence Einhorn who has less written about him on the internet than any of previous 10 we’ve mentioned—even those dating back to nearly the dawn of medicine!

However, he is deserving of at least as many words on the internet as any of the others—he did invent an (almost) cure for testicular cancer after all!
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Reasons Why Parents Choose Not To Immunize Their Children

Here we are, in our discussion about immunization, at the ten reasons parents don’t immunize their children as described by a colleague, Greg Barrett at Ohio State University School of Medicine.

He did something that very few pediatricians these days are willing to do: immerse himself in the wasteful false rhetoric in order to understand the dilemma the patients he cared about were in. This article is for those who are truly looking for answers (Vaccine-haters, this is not for you).
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