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Only 31% of California students are physically fit

Sixth-graders stretch at Van Nuys Middle School in 2006. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

For the second year in a row, California students have tested relatively low in a series of statewide physical fitness tests, the state Department of Education announced Thursday.

About 31% of students received healthy scores in all six of the tested areas, State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement.

"When we can call fewer than one out of three of our kids physically fit, we know we have a tremendous public health challenge on our hands," said Torlakson, a longtime cross-country coach. "It affects more than their health — study after study has demonstrated the very clear link between physical fitness and academic achievement."

The fitness score dropped to 31% last year, after years of steady improvement, the study’s results showed. About 1.3 million fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders were tested. Of those, only 31% were able to score in what state officials call a "healthy fitness zone."

"While I am glad their fitness levels improve as they make their way through school, we owe it to California’s kids to give them more opportunities for exercise, along with better access to healthy foods and clean, fresh water," Torlakson said.

Torlakson’s office is continuing to push a year-old initiative to promote healthy choices in schools.


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Photo: Sixth-graders stretch at Van Nuys Middle School in 2006. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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