The Cooper Institute

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



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FitnessGram by The Cooper Institute is an assessment that measures student fitness levels. As the national test of the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, FitnessGram assesses the physical and aerobic fitness of more than 10 million students across the country in over 20,000 schools.

FitnessGram by The Cooper Institute is unique and widely accepted because we use evidence-based fitness standards. Rather than focusing on percentile norms, which rank students against each other, we instead focus on the individual student and whether they are in the healthy fitness zone. The fitness zones also vary according to age and gender.

These fitness levels allow for more personalized feedback. 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 of FitnessGram is for all children to be in the Healthy Fitness Zone on all five components. Only modest amounts of activity are needed to obtain health benefits, so most students who are regularly active should be able to score within or above the Healthy Fitness Zone on most FitnessGram assessments. Students who are in the Healthy Fitness Zone are considered to be fit enough for good overall health.

Needs Improvement

This zone indicates a potential for future health risks if fitness doesn’t improve. Increased activity as well as eating a healthy, controlled diet could delay or reverse this potential risk. Students in the Needs Improvement Zone will see messaging on their FitnessGram Student Reports explaining how they can move into the Healthy Fitness Zone.

Needs Improvement-Health Risk

The Health Risk zone suggests that the student has a probability for future health problems if they don’t improve their physical fitness. 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.