Fewer than a third of the more than one million fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders in California who took the 2012 Physical Fitness Test posted healthy scores in all six of the tested areas, according to results released by the state.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson called the statistics, in which just 31 percent of the students were noted as healthy, “a tremendous public health challenge.”
This “affects more than their health–study after study has demonstrated the very clear link between physical fitness and academic achievement,” he said.
However, Torlakson said he was pleased to observe that students generally became more fit as they grew older, scoring better in Grades 7 and 9 than they did as fifth-graders.
The numbers in the South Bay Union School District and Sweetwater Union High School District reflected that trend. Student scores can be viewed here.
The FITNESSGRAM program used by the state has six individual tests including aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, trunk extensor strength, upper body strength, and flexibility.
The California State Board of Education designated the FITNESSGRAM in 1996 as the required Physical Fitness Test that local educational agencies administer to students annually in grades five, seven, and nine.
State law requires all public schools in California to report the findings in their School Accountability Report Cards and provide students with their individual results.
The categories measured are:
- Aerobic capacity, via a one-mile run.
- Body composition, by skinfold measurements.
- Abdominal strength and Endurance, by curl-ups
- Truck extensor strength and flexibility, by a trunk lift in inches.
- Upper body strength and endurance, by 90-degree push-ups, a modified pull-up and flexed arm hang.
- Flexibility, by a sit-and-reach and a shoulder stretch – touching fingertips together behind the back on both the right and left sides.
Torlakson’s Team California for Healthy Kids initiative engages celebrity athletes, community leaders, public health advocates, parents, teachers and students to partner together to help students make healthy choices.