The state of California conducts student fitness tests periodically. The test administered to fifth, seventh and ninth graders studies student fitness in six areas. Jack O'Connell , the Superintendent of Public Instruction released this year's results of the annual assessment.
Out of nearly 1.4 million students who took the test, only one-third could meet the required standards set for areas like body fat, abdominal strength and flexibility.
In the lower grades such as fifth and seventh, around six in ten finished the one-mile run test in the allotted time, whereas among the ninth-graders, nearly half found it difficult to run one mile briskly.
'These numbers tell us that too many of our students are leading sedentary lives exacerbated by poor eating habits,' state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said. 'This is a destructive trend that has resulted in an epidemic of childhood obesity and must be reversed.' He also stressed that it was the duty of the physical education instructors to see that children have enough exercise , run and drill to keep fit.
However, this year's scores are slightly better than last year. They show a 1 percent increase across the three grades. 'The overall results show we have a lot of work to do,' concluded Jack O'Connell.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who once headed the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (from 1990 to 1992), also joins in the view that Californian schools should incorporate activity that is more physical.