This study tracked health-related physical fitness in 11 year-old youths over their three-year middle school period. The Fitnessgram test battery was administered four times to 116 boys and 129 girls in the US during the period. Results indicated that BMI and estimated %BF tracked best, followed by PACER, sit and reach, push-up, and curl-up. Fitness levels in the estimated %BF and curl-up in the least fit quartiles (at baseline) tracked better than those in the fittest quartiles, and initially at-risk youths had higher probabilities of falling into at-risk categories three years later than those initially in healthy groups. In addition, boys became healthier in the estimated %BF and girls tracked poorer than boys in the PACER. Further, the numbers of girls in the at-risk categories increased considerably in four fitness measures (estimated %BF, BMI, PACER, and push-up) during the middle school period, whereas boys’ corresponding numbers either dropped or did not change in all the fitness measures.
Liu, Zillifro, and Nichols are with the Dept. of Physical Education, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA.