a group of children sitting on the floor

FitnessGram® Assessment

The FitnessGram assessment helps students gain a better understanding of their health-related fitness.

FitnessGram is the leading evidence-based physical fitness assessment and reporting tool that measures student physical fitness levels; think of it as a report card for student fitness. It is used annually in thousands of schools across the country, reaching more than 10 million students. Since 1982, FitnessGram has helped students build healthy habits and learn to appreciate the importance of regular physical activity.

Our world-class FitnessGram Advisory Board (FAB) has provided more than 35 years of research, evaluation, validation and enhancement to optimize the assessment. The FitnessGram Assessment and the FitnessGram Software, owned by GreenLight Fitness, work together to track and improve student health and fitness.

What makes FitnessGram one-of-a-kind is that it uses scientifically defined standards that help determine how fit children should be for good health. The five health-related fitness components that are evaluated with the FitnessGram Assessment include aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition. FitnessGram is designed to help students understand their health-related fitness, and NOT to compare themselves to one another. This is why FitnessGram focuses on criterion-reference standards and not percentile norms.

For each fitness component, students can fall within three fitness zones: Healthy Fitness Zone, Needs Improvement Zone, or Needs Improvement-Health Risk Zone. This allows for more personalized feedback and makes it possible to provide more effective messaging to students and parents about potential health risks.

To learn more about the FitnessGram Assessment and its impact, please email fitnessgram@cooperinst.org.

For more information about the FitnessGram Software, visit fitnessgram.net.

If you are a student and want a fun way to learn more about FitnessGram, visit the FitnessGram Playground.


Health-related fitness components

Aerobic Capacity

Aerobic capacity is a measure of the ability of the heart, lungs and muscles to perform sustained physical activity. In general, the more a child exercises, the higher their aerobic capacity level will be. It is measured using estimates of VO2 max (also known as maximal oxygen uptake). VO2 max reflects the maximum amount of oxygen that the respiratory, cardiovascular, and muscular systems can take in, transport, and use during exercise. For the FitnessGram assessment, aerobic capacity is measured with the PACER test, the one-mile run, or the 1-mile walk test. Why do we measure aerobic capacity? Good aerobic capacity can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Although generally not present in children, these diseases can begin during childhood and adolescence.

Body Composition

Body composition describes what part of total body weight is fat, and what part is fat-free. Fat-free body weight includes bones and muscles. FitnessGram believes it is important to educate youth and parents about appropriate levels of body composition. Some body fat is needed for overall good health, but too much can lead to health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type2 diabetes and heart disease. Common methods to assess percent body fat include bioelectric impendence device or skin-fold assessment, however, practical application in schools is very difficult. Therefore, FitnessGram also provides standards for a widely-used alternative indicator of body composition known as Body Mass Index (BMI). FitnessGram BMI assessment utilizes the standards developed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Why do we measure body composition? Overweight youth are at high risk for being overweight adults as well as having chronic adult conditions like prediabetes in childhood. Adult obesity is associated with a number of chronic health problems as noted above. Since these health problems can begin early in life, it is important to begin healthy eating and regular activity early.

Muscular Strength, Endurance and Flexibility

These components of health-related fitness measure the overall fitness of the musculoskeletal system. Muscular strength is the maximum force your muscles can exert in a single effort.  Muscular endurance is the ability to sustain or repeat muscular activity over time. Flexibility describes the range of motion of muscles at the joint. For the FitnessGram Assessment, a variety of tests are used to assess these different components, including:

Curl-up - abdominal strength and endurance;
Trunk Lift - trunk extensor strength and flexibility;
Push-up - upper body strength and endurance, and;
Back-saver Sit-and-Reach - flexibility.

Why do we measure these components? The fitness level ofmuscles is important for injury prevention and overall body function. Strength,endurance, and flexibility are important for maintaining good bone health,posture, and total body function.


Frequently Asked Questions

What can FitnessGram do?
Can you use FitnessGram to compare students?
How did FitnessGram get started?

More questions?

If you didn't find the answer to your question, please reach out to us! We'd love to hear from you.

Contact Us

FitnessGram Advisory Board (FAB)

Francis X. Short

Francis X. Short

Eloise Elliott, PhD

Eloise Elliott, PhD

Vanessa Yingling

Vanessa Yingling

Weimo Zhu, PhD

Weimo Zhu, PhD


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