I remember being in elementary school and my teachers talking about the Presidential Fitness Award and practicing each of the tests in preparation for the day when my classmates and I all held each other’s feet and did sit-ups. If you were wondering if that same test still exists, the answer is… yes.
In an effort to track the fitness level of our students, each year fifth, seventh,
and ninth graders all perform the same five physical fitness tests, which
are the sit and reach, shuttle run, pull-ups, sit-ups, and the endurance
walk/run. The goal of the Presidential Fitness Test is to help educators help their students be at their best. Since we know that exercise and a healthy body helps with learning, it’s understandable that we would want to track our student’s fitness levels.
Just how important is this fitness testing, I had the opportunity to talk with Alecia Sanchez, who is a policy director for the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. She said,
“Right now in the state of California, one third of our students are overweight or obese. These fitness tests and BMI results help us to track the fitness levels of our children. Without these measurements, our state would not be able to follow the trends in fitness and obesity.”
The results of these tests also help school districts and educators know where their students are excelling and where there is room for improvement.
With the fiscal challenge that our state is facing, there is a chance that the funding for fitness testing will be cut. This week, the state assembly and the senate will be addressing this issue. Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal is due on May 15 and more details will be announced for funding and cuts. I asked Sanchez about what would happen if the fitness testing was cut and she said, “We need to keep what we have so we can build upon it. If we lose it, we may not get it back.”
She also included in her comments that the fitness testing is not expensive in comparison to other educational programs. If the fitness testing is cut, it would do very little to balance the budget, but would be detrimental to the ability of health advocates to track health and fitness levels.
The Presidential Fitness Challenge extends beyond just the school age children. Anyone who is interested in living a healthier life can get involved with PCFSN.