The FITNESSGRAM®, is a program that was initiated in 1994, through the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, and has since been revised, in response to recent developments in the field of youth fitness and disease prevention (eg.: Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, 1996; CDC’s Guidelines for School and Community Programs to Promote Lifelong Physical Activity Among Young People, 1997.)

FITNESSGRAM is a “comprehensive health-related fitness and activity assessment and computerized reporting system. All elements within FITNESSGRAM are designed to assist teachers in accomplishing the primary objective of youth fitness programs, which is to help students establish physical activity as part of their daily lives.”

“FITNESSGRAM seeks to develop affective, cognitive and behavioral components related to participation in regular physical activity in all children and youth...FITNESSGRAM emphasizes participation in a wide variety of physical activities to develop and maintain an acceptable level of fitness”

The FITNESSGRAM Progam addresses the health-fitness components that have been associated with the development of chronic disease, namely aerobic capacity, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition.

Short term/Long term objectives
The short term objective is to “provide students with opportunities to learn fitness concepts while participating in enjoyable activities that enhance fitness levels.” 1

The long term objective is “to teach students the skills they need to be active for life. Students should learn to self-assess their fitness levels, interpret assessment results, plan personal programs, and motivate themselves to remain active on their own.” 1

Assessment items
The assessment items included in the FITNESSGRAM are designed to address the health-fitness components and to provide several test options.

Aerobic Capacity

  • The PACER (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run)
  • One-mile run

Muscle Strength/Endurance

  • curl up
  • trunk lift
  • push up
  • modified pull-up
  • pull up
  • flexed arm hang


  • sit and reach
  • shoulder stretch

Body Composition

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)

The FITNESSGRAM uses criterion-referenced standards to evaluate fitness performance.

“These standards have been established to represent a level of fitness that offers some degree of protection against diseases, which result from sedentary living.” 1

Performance is classified into two general areas of “needs improvement” and “healthy fitness zone”, offering a range of acceptable health-fitness levels, and dispelling the notion that fitness is an “either, or” concept, but exists on a continuum.