A Look at Physical Fitness in America

Did you ever earn a Presidential Physical Fitness Award?

You know—that shiny blue badge that you got for hitting the 85th percentile in the President's Challenge Physical Fitness Test.

Each year, students across the country are tested for their level of physical fitness in five activities: curl ups, shuttle run, endurance run/walk (typically a timed mile), pull ups, and the sit and reach. Together, these events comprise the President's Challenge Physical Fitness Test, a program of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

Kids and Fitness in America

The President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition works to empower all Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle through regular physical activity, participation in sports and healthy eating. Shellie Pfohl, the executive director of PCFSN, spoke at the recent 2012 Running USA Conference about the importance of getting and keeping America's youth active.

Growing up in Iowa, Pfohl said she developed a love of movement at an early age.

"Kids today are missing that somehow," Pfohl said. "There's a nature deficit disorder. Kids are not getting outside enough. They aren't appreciating the environment. How will they be able to be impactful?"

By being outdoors and participating in sports, kids are able to develop a sense of team and a solid work ethic, Pfohl said.

"They get to hang out with coaches, teachers and community organizers who care," Pfohl said. "They care if I show up. They care about my future. We need every one of you to be ambassadors and educators for our young."

Pfohl stressed an "Each one, teach one" philosophy, where individuals take the initiative and responsibility to lift up those around them.

"It may not be a young person," Pfohl said. "It may be an adult who needs that support so they can continue to move and be mobile and live vivacious lives."

The Impact

The health overall health and physical fitness of the nation impacts our ability to compete in a global economy, Pfohl said.

Here are a few of the alarming statistics she shared:

  • 70 percent of young people are turned away from military service for one of the following things: physically unfit, don't have a high school diploma or have a criminal record.
  • Only one in five homes have a park within a half mile.
  • One out of 45 kids in America is homeless.
  • One out of every 3 kids is food insecure. This means the family isn't sure where the next meal is coming from.

What Can You Do

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