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Presidential Fitness Tests in 29th Year

The President’s Council on Fitness, Sport and Nutrition (PCFSN) is celebrating nearly three decades of promoting health and fitness.

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 5th, 7th,
and 9th 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.

Do you think students should be required to take this test? Do you remember the Presidential Fitness Testing? How did you do? Tell us in comments.

Deanne Goodman May 08, 2012 at 10:20 PM
I remember this test. I am the least flexible person alive and always dreaded the "sit and reach." I also couldn't and still can't do a pull up. Maybe it's time to revise the test a bit?
S'hauni Waterdragon May 08, 2012 at 10:31 PM
This program perhaps, but I remember doing pushups for JFK back in the early sixties. That would be more than fifty years ago... "President Eisenhower established the President's Council on Youth Fitness with Executive Order 10673, issued on July 16, 1956. Having established this council, Eisenhower rarely spoke on the subject of fitness and did not appear at any of its annual conferences. John F. Kennedy's approach to the problem of fitness would be very different. The council engaged in a sweeping drive to achieve widespread participation in the program for the 1961–1962 school year. A core group of almost a quarter of a million schoolchildren took part in pilot projects in six states." http://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/Physical-Fitness.aspx
Ksmith29 May 08, 2012 at 11:21 PM
The PTA brought back the Presidential Fitness Test to El Camino Creek Elementary School this year. It was great fun for the students and I think participation and excitement will be even more next year. Students who received the award (about 1/3 of those that participated) were presented with their certificate and patch at the Friday assembly in front of the whole school.

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