The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH



Healthy Fitness Zone® Standards

Click to EnlargeFitnessGram® is unique, and widely accepted, because the fitness assessments are evaluated using criterion-referenced standards. An advantage of criterion-referenced standards, over percentile norms, is they are based on levels of fitness for good health. The amount of fitness needed for good health differs between boys and girls and it also varies across age. 

FitnessGram® classifies fitness levels using discrete zones to allow for more personalized feedback. The two primary zones are the Healthy Fitness Zone® and the Needs Improvement Zone; however, for aerobic capacity and body composition two distinct Needs Improvement and Needs Improvement-Health Risk Zones are used to make further distinctions in fitness. The use of three zones makes it possible to provide more effective prescriptive messages to youth since the zones are based on clear differences in potential health risks.

Healthy Fitness Zone (HFZ)

The goal in FitnessGram® is for children to achieve the Healthy Fitness Zone® on as many assessments as possible. Because only modest amounts of activity are needed to obtain health benefits, most students who perform regular physical activity will be able to achieve a score that will place them within or above the Healthy Fitness Zone® on most FitnessGram® test items. If children are in the Healthy Fitness Zone® they are considered to have sufficient fitness for good health.

Needs Improvement

Indicates that if the student continues to track at this level there is the potential for future health risks. However, this potential is possible, not probable. Increased activity as well as eating a healthy, controlled diet could delay or reverse this potential risk. Children in the Needs Improvement Zone receive messaging on their FitnessGram® reports explaining how they should strive to move into the Healthy Fitness Zone®.

Needs Improvement-Health Risk

Indicates that if the student continues to track at this level there is a clear potential for future health problems (a more probable risk). The need for increased activity and eating a healthy diet is more urgent for students in this category than those in the Needs Improvement Zone. Children in the Needs Improvement-Health Risk Zone receive messages warning them of probable risk if they continue tracking at this level.