The Checkup: Presidential Fitness Test Gets a (Much Needed) Makeover

Ugh, the sit-and-reach—it killed me every time.

• I’m sure every Be Weller remembers the Presidential Fitness Test with at least some feeling of dread. I didn’t mind it except for that dang sit-and-reach; send me out on the track to run miles and miles and I’m fine. But sit me on the floor and tell me to reach for a line on a wooden box? No. No, thank you. Alas, our children may never know the pain of our youth—at least, not in the same way, exactly—thanks to a much-needed makeover to the program announced this week. Gone are the somewhat arbitrary metrics that measured how physically fit you were compared to your peers. Instead, kids will be assessed against themselves and their own goals, with the program measuring overall health rather than performance on physical tests. The outcome of activities based on cardiovascular fitness, body composition, muscle strength and more will yield scores that put kids in the Healthy Fitness Zone—or not. If kids score in the Healthy Fitness Zone in five out of six events, they will receive the Presidential Youth Fitness Award. If they fall outside the Healthy Fitness Zone, they’ll be given tools and resources to help them improve their fitness. Groups like the American Heart Association are hailing the revamped program as a “positive step forward” toward improving kids’ health and physical education. Critics argue that because the new program, like the old one, is completely voluntary, it might not have the intended impact. WebMD has more details.

• Speaking of kids’ health, a new study found that lots of pediatricians don’t take blood pressure readings during appointments. Analyzing government data, researchers found that the test was skipped in a third of appointments with pediatricians—kind of a big problem since more and more kids are overweight these days and may face related issues like hypertension. Reuters has more.

• Okay, so this is a few weeks old, but I couldn’t help sharing it, anyway. Check out these photos of a currently vegan Bill Clinton next to his mug from a few years ago—and a few years before that. Notice a positively … healthy glow? Proponents of the vegan diet are (quite happily) calling the former president the “unlikely posterboy” for the cause.