Distribution of Health-Related Physical Fitness in Texas Youth

A Demographic and Geographic Analysis

This study provides descriptive data on demographic categories of health-related fitness from a large sample of Texas schools, which beginning in 2008 were mandated to conduct fitness testing in physical education. In the first year, data was obtained from nearly 6,000 schools representing more than 80 percent of districts and 250 of the state’s 254 counties.

Teachers were trained to use software and testing kits and submitted results to the Texas Education Association through a web-based data aggregation utility. The students were rated as to whether or not they achieved the health-related FITNESSGRAM® Healthy Fitness Zone™ (HFZ) on a number of assessments to measure cardiovascular fitness, body mass index, musculoskeletal fitness and flexibility.

Among the analysis:

  • The percentage of youth who achieved HFZ for cardiovascular fitness varied by age (70% for elementary school children, 46% middle school and 34% high school).
  • The percentage of youth achieving HFZ ideals for BMI ranged between 60 percent and 70 percent for boys and between 70 percent and 80 percent for girls.
  • The percentage of youth achieving health-related standards was lower for schools with high diversity and lower socioeconomic status.

The researchers also linked the data using GIS mapping technology to show regional variations in fitness among Texas school children.