It would be pleasant if the attainment and maintenance
of physical fitness could be pure fun, if good physical condition could be
achieved and maintained through infrequent participation in sports and games.
Many of us view calisthenics, running and similar conditioning exercises as
routine and boring.
Sports are fun but, considering available time, the
facilities needed and the expense involved, the maintenance of fitness through
sports alone is obviously beyond the reach of most Americans. If school
physical education programs ignore this fact and place their sole emphasis on
the development of sports and recreational skills, such programs can properly
be called frills of education.
Good physical education programs, however, under
competent leadership, are not frills. They are designed to meet the individual
needs of all girls and boys, and they pay particular attention to the
underdeveloped and over-protected child. A tendency toward obesity or its
opposite may be inherited, along with general awkwardness, but these tendencies
can be overcome by a proper diet and a well-planned, individualized activity
This nation possesses the resources to insure that
every girl and boy will reach maturity with a strong, straight body, free from
all medically remedial defects. We possess the educational know-how to give
each child an understanding of the necessity for regular exercise and every
young American the incentive to maintain his proper body weight and muscle tone
To pass the tests for minimum physical fitness shown
here is not an end in itself; they do represent, however, a first step. A child
who can pass these tests, which are taken from the suggested school physical
fitness program sent out by the President's Council last year and are the same
ones that President Kennedy referred to, has reason for pride. He not only has
been able to accomplish this first step, but, more important, he has set his
feet upon a path that, if pursued, will enable him at last to utilize fully his
physical, intellectual and social potentialities in the service of his God, his
country and himself.
The equipment needed is a bar, mounted high enough so that it is above the
outstretched fingertips. To start the exercise, jump up and grasp the bar, with
the palms turned outward. The feet must hang free of the floor. Pull the body
smoothly up with the arms alone, in a continuous movement, until the chin is
over the bar. The pull-up must not be a snap movement; the knees may not be
raised; kicking is not permitted. If the body starts to swing, a partner must
stop it by holding his arm extended across the subject's thighs. One complete
pull-up is counted each time the subject puts his chin over the bar. For boys
from 10 to 13 years of age, one pull-up is considered passing; for boys 14 and
15, two pull-ups; for boys aged 16 and 17, three.
For girls, the height of the bar is adjusted to chest level. (In the home, it
might be placed between two stepladders and securely fastened.) In the starting
position, the subject faces the bar and grasps it with palms turned outward.
She then walks under the bar, keeping her body and knees straight and her heels
on the floor. While a partner braces her heels to prevent them from slipping,
she lowers her body until her arms are fully extended, at right angles to the
body line. She then pulls herself up until her chest touches the bar, drops
back and repeats. No resting is permitted between pull-ups. Eight pull-ups are
passing for girls aged 10 to 17.
SIT-UPS (BOYS AND GIRLS)
Starting position is lying on the back, legs extended, feet about one foot
apart. The hands are clasped behind the neck, elbows extended. A partner holds
the subject's ankles, keeping the heels firmly on the floor. The subject sits
up, turns the trunk to the left, touches the right elbow to the left knee,
straightens and returns to the lying position. Without pause, he sits up again,
turns the trunk to the left, touches the left elbow to the right knee, then
lies down again. One complete sit-up is counted each time the subject returns
to the starting position. For boys aged 10 to 17 years, 14 sit-ups are
considered passing; for girls aged 10 to 17, 10.
SQUAT THRUST (BOYS AND GIRLS)
For this test, a stop watch or a watch with a sweep second hand is needed,
since the object is to count the number of times the exercise can be performed
within a 10-second limit. It starts with the subject standing at attention, and
at the signal "Ready! Go!" he bends to a squatting position, with hands
on the floor between, outside or in front of the bent knees. From the squat
position the legs arc thrust quickly backward, fully extended, so that the body
is held straight in the push-up position. Just as quickly, the subject returns
to the squatting position, rises to standing, then repeats. The entire exercise
should be accomplished in a smooth and rhythmically coordinated movement. One
complete squat thrust is counted each time the subject returns to the erect
position, and at the end of 10 seconds, the timer says, "Stop." For
boys aged 10 to 17, four squat thrusts are considered passing; for girls aged
10 to 17, three.