Are You Fitter than a Fifth Grader? Take the Presidential Physical Fitness Test

Erica-V-SitPut on your polyester gym uniform and call your friends for a game of crab soccer…it’s time for the Presidential Physical Fitness Test!  It doesn’t matter which U.S. president signed your certificate in grade school; everyone knows bragging rights went to whomever could run the mile the fastest, do the most sit-ups and complete the pull-up challenge.

Here are three of the Presidential Physical Fitness Award benchmarks for fifth graders. Are you up for the challenge? We’ve also included a few fitness-related tips for those who haven’t been in fifth grade since President Reagan’s signature was on certificates, but would like to get in better shape.

One-mile Run

Presidential Fitness Award Standard time:  7 minutes, 32 seconds (boys) and 9 minutes, 2 seconds (girls)

Running is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise; however, as we get older or carry additional weight, running can be difficult on the knees and joints.

Gabe Stinson, a sports enhancement specialist at Memorial SportsCare, recommends new runners (or those who haven’t run since they were kids) develop an exercise program.

“Make sure you have the proper shoes for your foot shape, and remember to start slow with distance and speed,” Stinson said.  “Over time, slowly increase your distance and speed.  Many Couch-to-5K apps for smart phones work great.”

V-Sit Reach

Presidential Fitness Award Standard:  +4 inches (boys) and +6.5 inches (girls)

This exercise measures the flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings.  To do this stretch, sit on the floor with your legs in a V-shape. Set up your measuring line. Then reach forward, and see how far you can reach. A simplified measuring-method uses the feet as “zero” – so that means being able to reach four to six inches beyond your toes.

“Flexibility exercises are just as important as cardio workouts,” Stinson said.  “As people age, stretching and flexibility can enhance physical strength, prevent injury and improve blood circulation.”

There are many exercise options to increase flexibility gradually and safely. Stinson recommends trying out a yoga or Pilates class for a great recovery day workout.  Yoga and Pilates will help improve flexibility and recovery from workouts faster.



Presidential Fitness Award Standard:  6 (boys) and 3 (girls)

These days, kids can opt to do push-ups instead of pull-ups, but either way this exercise takes all the upper body strength you can muster. Hang from a well-secured bar with your feet off the ground and pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. Then do that again two to five more times.

“Your body weight is all you need,” Stinson said. “If you can’t do regular push-ups, just put your knees on the ground to make them easier. Pull-ups are very hard, too, but if you can’t do them, just substitute either lat-pulldowns or seated rows to strengthen your back.”

You don’t have to meet the Presidential Fitness standards to be physically fit; eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly (both for cardio and flexibility) and reducing stress will all contribute to a healthier life. And while a certificate with the president’s signature is pretty cool…the better award will be feeling and looking your best.

If you want help assessing what your fitness level is now and learning how you can safely and successfully improve your physical health, Memorial SportsCare offers a variety of fitness programs. Call 217-862-0444 or email  to learn how Stinson and our experts at SportsCare can help.