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Student Well-Being

Only 31 Percent of Calif. Students Deemed Physically Fit

By Bryan Toporek — December 01, 2011 1 min read

The latest physical-fitness results for California students are in, and the findings aren’t pretty.

Only 31 percent of students were able to pass all six components of the state’s 2011 Physical Fitness Test, according to findings from the state department of education released yesterday.

Ninety-three percent of all students enrolled in 5th, 7th, and 9th grades—1.34 million in total—took the fitness test this past year. Students were measured in six “fitness areas": aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, trunk extensor strength, upper-body strength, and flexibility.

Based on their results in the first two areas, students got separated into three categories: in the “healthy-fitness zone” (HFZ), “needs improvement,” or “needs improvement-high risk.” In the last four fitness areas, students could either be in the HFZ or in the needs-improvement group.

Alarmingly, 34.1 percent of 5th graders, 30.3 percent of 7th graders, and 25 percent of 9th graders all fell into the “needs improvement-high risk” group for their body composition. The report says that “students in this area have the potential for future health problems.”

“Today’s results are clear: When only 31 percent of children are physically fit, that’s a public-health challenge we can’t wait to address,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement. “That’s where our Team California for Healthy Kids campaign can make a world of difference, by helping make healthy choices the easy choices, at school and beyond.”

Should We Be Surprised?

After taking a closer examination of the California statistics, these findings likely shouldn’t be considered surprising.

First and foremost: As stated in the release from the Calif. education department, a 5-foot-6-inch, 150-pound, 15-year-old male would need to be able to run a mile in under nine minutes, perform 16 or more pushups, and complete at least 24 curl-ups (or “crunches”) to fall into the HFZ.

I don’t know about you, readers, but my 15-year-old self would have failed that fitness test. (The thought of doing

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.