Nicki Anderson: President’s Physical Fitness Testgets a makeover
By Nicki Anderson email@example.com October 15, 2012 6:32PM
Updated: November 18, 2012 6:28AM
I don’t know about you, but when I was in school, even the mention of fitness testing made me sick enough to be absent. As an inactive teen, it was my perception that the President’s Physical Fitness Test was a tool to highlight the athletic kids. So, I was happy to discover that after 20 years, the fitness test is finally being updated.
The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN) announced last month that the former Physical Fitness Test is now the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, and that it will focus primarily on assessing health versus athleticism. Novel idea. For those kids who don’t excel in sports, this is good news. Nothing is worse than tests that simply emphasize weaknesses versus positive testing where it becomes a level playing field.
According to the council, only one in five youth get the exercise they need. As we continue to find ways to get our kids healthier, this new formula for testing kids may actually have a positive impact. At the end of the day, the goal of the test should be to motivate children to move more, not necessarily in a formal venue such as structured athletics, but lifelong strategies such as a brisk walk after a long day, or a bike ride with friends.
Research shows almost one in three children are overweight and one in six are considered obese. Obviously, as kids morph into adults, the threat of poor health simply increases, and sadly overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.
Since 1966, the Youth Fitness Test has been used to assess physical fitness. According to PCFSN, the updated program will provide training and resources to schools to assess, track and recognize youth health-related fitness. Support will be available to all schools, including Web-based access to test protocol, standards for testing, calculators for aerobic capacity and body composition (BMI), promotion of the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+), online training, school recognition programs and more. Schools and districts also can purchase additional resources, such as data management, reporting software and testing aids, to enhance the program.
As a less than athletic child, it’s encouraging to see the shift from an emphasis on athletic performance to health-based standards. Definitely a step in the right direction.
Though I’ve never been fond of body composition testing (this can be brutal for kids who carry weight differently), the new protocol is designed to be a practical guide for what a healthy student should be able to do based on age and gender. Comparisons are no longer what teachers look at (which is great); it’s more about each student setting personal fitness goals to be their best, their healthiest. Gone are the days of the fastest or strongest kids, now the focus is getting our kids healthier and helping them realize the value of exercise throughout their life.
Changes to the Presidential Youth Fitness Program were developed in partnership with experts in health promotion and youth fitness, including the Amateur Athletic Union, the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, the Centers for Disease Control, Prevention and the Cooper Institute.
My hope is this revision will be more than affirming one’s athletic prowess and instead evaluate overall health while providing tools to develop and maintain an active lifestyle.
Do you have an inspiring story about your journey to fitness? Share it with
Nicki Anderson at nicki@ nickianderson.com.