The annual Fitnessgram test is one way California students can determine if they're on a healthy life plan -- and possibly get out of gym. According to the California Department of Education, a freshman who passes five of the six fitness standards can skip two years of high school p.e. The yearly test tracks fitness levels through a national formula designed by the Cooper Institute.
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Aiming for the Healthy Zone
The test results are rated in three categories, with the hope most students fall into the healthy fitness zone. Healthy fitness shows students are active enough to reduce health risks such as obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Most students who perform a daily physical activity should place within this zone. The next category is needs improvement, as the results show a potential for future health risks. The third, needs improvement, points to a definite future health issue unless changes are made.
The Fitnessgram measures aerobic capacity with the PACER, a 20 meter shuttle run, a one mile run or walk, and, for some age groups, an extra walking test. Results are measured by the maximum amount of oxygen a student requires to perform the test. The higher the test score, the healthier and more efficient the child's cardiovascular system. For example, a 13-year old girl with a test result of greater than or equal to 39.7 falls in the healthy fitness zone. A boy of the same age meets the standard with a result greater than or equal to 41.1.
The kids' body fat percentage is taken with calipers, while body mass index is determined through a height to weight ratio. Girls age 12 meet the standard with body fat between 12.7 to 26.7 and BMI from 12.7 to 26.7. For 17-year-old females, the good numbers are 15.9 to 30.4 for body fat and 17.5 and 24.9 for BMI. Males are required to have slightly lower numbers. A 12-year-old boy is within the healthy range with body fat between 8.4 and 23.6 and BMI between 15.3 and 21.3. The numbers are 6.7 to 20.9 percent and a BMI between 18.1 and 24.9 for 17-year-old boys.
Exercises for Strength
The test uses the abdominal curl-up, the trunk lift, the push-up, pull-up and modified arm hang test strength and endurance. As age increases, so do the required number of repetitions. For example, 5-year-old girls and boys are expected to do more than two curl-ups, while 17-year-olds girls are expected to perform more than 18. A 17-year-old boy should be able to do 24 curl-ups.
The Flex Test
The flexibility tests start with the sit and reach, where students sit with their legs straight in front of them and reach forward as far as possible. For girls, sit and reach standards are 9 inches for 5 to 10-year-olds, 10 inches for 11 to 14-year-olds, and more than 12 for girls 15 and up. Males of all ages are expected to reach forward at least 8 inches. The other flexibility test, the shoulder stretch, requires students to press their fingertips together on both sides of the back.