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3 MIDDLE SCHOOL: Why is power now considered a health-related component of fitness?

A 2012 report by the independent Institute of Medicine (IOM) (Fitness Measures and Health Outcomes in Youth) provides evidence of the link between power and health. The IOM is a branch of the National Academy of Sciences. A panel of experts was selected by the IOM to review the literature on the relationship between health and the components of physical fitness. The report produced by the IOM committee indicates that power is associated with wellness, higher quality of life, reduced risk of chronic disease and early death, and better bone health. In fact, the association between power (and tests of power) and health among youth was judged to be stronger than the relationship between health and other components traditionally considered to be health related.

Fitness for Life previously listed power as a skill-related component of fitness. However, the fifth edition referred to power as a combined fitness component because power = strength × speed. Strength is a health-related component, and speed is a skill-related component. In the sixth edition of Fitness for Life, power has been added as a health-related component. The conclusions of the IOM report are supported by research indicating that power and activities that build power are associated with bone health in youth (Gunter et al., 2012). The authors of a more recent study (Janz, et al., 2015) indicated “…we think muscle power should be viewed as an important health-related physical fitness trait (in addition to a sport performance attribute)…., p. 2206.”  In another article Janz and Francis (2015) noted that they “….found strong and consistent associations as well as direct and indirect pathways, among muscle power, MCSA, and tibia strength. These results support the use of muscle power as a component of health-related fitness…., p.1.”

In 2014, authors from SHAPE America, Physical Best, Fitnessgram, Human Kinetics, and Fitness for Life prepared an article for JOPERD providing information about the inclusion of power as a health-related component of fitness (Corbin et al., 2014). More information on the topic, as well as other information about key fitness concepts, is provided in the JOPERD article and other sources cited in the reference list.


Corbin, C.B., Welk, G.J., Richardson, C., Vowell, C., Lambdin, D., & Wikgren, S. (2014). Youth physical fitness: Ten key concepts. JOPERD, 85(2), 24-31.  

Gunter, K.B., Almsteadt, H.C., & Janz, K.F. (2012). Physical activity in childhood may be the key to optimizing lifespan skeletal age. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 40(1), 13-21.

Institute of Medicine. (2012). Fitness measures and health outcomes in youth. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.

Janz, K. F. & Francis, S. L. (2015). Active voice: It’s a power thing: Muscle function, muscle size, and bone strength. Sports Medicine Bulletin, November 10, 1+.

Janz, K. F., Letuchy, E. M., Burns, T. L., Francis, S. L., & Levy, S. M. (2015). Muscle power predicts adolescent bone strength: Iowa bone development study. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 47(10), 2201-2206.