Presidential Youth Fitness Program Adopts the FITNESSGRAM Assessment

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New Fitness Program teaches skills for lifelong physical activity

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests a link between physical activity and improved academic success.

Physical activity is critical to children’s health and well-being. Research shows that children with better health are in school more days, are better able to learn, have higher self-esteem and are at lower risk for developing chronic diseases. In an effort to help get kids moving, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN) is launching the Presidential Youth Fitness Program this month. The new school-based program will replace the President’s Council Youth Fitness Test, which has been implemented in schools since 1985.

Although the President’s Council Fitness Test evolved through the years, that test used physical fitness data from a 1985 National School Population Fitness Survey. The test only measured how students performed certain activities compared to peers and reported little about students’ actual health.

Based on the latest science, the PCFSN has teamed up with leaders in the fields of physical education, fitness, and health including the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD), the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and The Cooper Institute to launch the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, a voluntary school-based program that promotes health and regular physical activity for America’s kids.

“Schools can play a critical role in inspiring a love of physical activity,” says Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness Sports and Nutrition. “There is a growing body of evidence that suggests a link between physical activity and improved academic success.”

The Presidential Youth Fitness Program has adopted FITNESSGRAM® as its assessment. FITNESSGRAM® in partnership with NFL PLAY 60 is a health-related, criterion-based assessment developed by The Cooper Institute. Unlike the President’s Council Fitness Test, FITNESSGRAM® helps minimize comparisons between children and instead supports students as they pursue personal fitness goals for lifelong health. The assessment measures health-related fitness through a variety of items designed to assess cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition. The Presidential Youth Fitness Program has also adopted Physical Best for professional development. Human Kinetics publishes FITNESSGRAM® for The Cooper Institute and Physical Best for AAHPERD.

The Presidential Youth Fitness Program represents the beginning of a new era in youth fitness assessment, one that emphasizes health over performance. In addition, the program provides options for professional development and materials to help physical educators effectively implement the program. The program also provides information to help parents understand the benefits of regular activity for their children.

More information on the Presidential Youth Fitness Program can be found at

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Alexis Koontz