How Physically Fit are Today's School Children?

Find out the answer.

by News Staff / July 24, 2015 0
Students in the Philippines do karate during physical education classes, which U.S. students take in fewer numbers once they reach high school. CC by 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Answer: It depends on their age.

Iowa State University researchers are taking a look at the fitness levels of students from first to 12th grade and finding that overall fitness drops as students advance through school.

In a data analysis of 192,000 students in 725 schools across the country, the researchers discovered that 21 to 35 percent of boys were considered healthy in five or six of the test areas, which included their aerobic capacity, abdominal strength and body mass index, reported the Ames Tribune. Meanwhile, 20 to 32 percent of girls reached the same levels.

This data comes from a youth fitness assessment tool for schools that the National Football League Foundation funded, and it shows a gradual decline for girls in fitness levels each year as well as a marked slow-down in boys starting at 6th grade. Researchers suggest that as students reach high school, they're not taking as many physical education classes and are spending more time on electronic devices, which could help explain lower fitness levels.

Over the next few years, researchers will continue to collect data as schools focus more on fitness.