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fi tness
In 2007, Cooper successfully campaigned to make PE
compulsory from kindergarten through to eighth grade,
raising the US$3.1m needed to fund the project himself
six separate tests measuring fi ve areas: The fi rst-year results of the study, Nevertheless, the study’s strong
body composition, aerobic capacity, published in March 2009, showed a correlation of fi tness with scholastic
muscular strength, endurance and remarkable correlation between higher success has attracted attention across
fl exibility. The tests determine whether levels of fi tness and better academic the US and, according to Cooper, the
students are in a ‘healthy fi tness zone’ performance. But even more interesting project is set to roll out in several other
for their age and gender. was the revelation that lower levels of states over the next 18 months.
As schools were removed from the fi tness were strongly linked to both Cooper is also excited about a new
study where less than 25 per cent of poor attendance and serious disciplinary study being launched in partnership with
students had participated, a total of 2.4 incidents. “There have already been 14 NFL Charities, the non-profi t foundation
million test results went forward for smaller studies showing a relationship of the National Football League (NFL).
analysis. Aggregate data from each school between kids’ fi tness levels and academic Announced in December, the deal has
was then compared with academic test achievement in school,” says Cooper. seen NFL Charities award a US$1.8m
scores, school attendance records and the “But we’re the fi rst to show the inverse grant to The Cooper Institute to make
number of disciplinary referrals involving relationship with absenteeism, discipline Fitnessgram testing available for three
drugs, alcohol, violence and truancy. and drug problems.” years to a quarter of a million children,
in 1,120 schools, across 32 NFL markets.
NATIONAL ROLLOUT The tests will be integrated into the
The project has been so successful in existing NFL PLAY 60 programme, which
Texas that many schools that were challenges kids to be active for 60 minutes
he global potential of initially sceptical have been won over, a day through a range of in-school, after-
Cooper’s study is not limited and the cohort for the second round of school and team-based initiatives.
to the UK. The Wright testing – for the school year 2008–2009 What makes the NFL study especially
Foundation recently signed a master – was even larger than for the first, with interesting, says Cooper, is that as well as
franchise deal with a company in 2.8 million students. taking the research nationwide in a single
Australia to set up The Wright As these tests were the fi rst step, it will allow The Cooper Institute
Foundation and Wright Foundation conducted after the launch of mandatory to look at results for individuals – this
Research there, and is already in PE – 30 minutes fi ve times a week, or 45 in contrast with the Texas study which,
talks with the Australian government minutes three times a week – signs of for privacy reasons, limited analysis to
about rolling out the children’s improvement in fi tness levels have been whole-school results. “If we can look at
fi tness study. Wright Foundation eagerly anticipated. However, although individuals and their lifestyles, discipline
Research also has numerous Centres the complete results won’t be available issues and drug problems, then we’ll be
of Excellence affi liated to partner until later this year, the initial indications able to tell so much more [about the
institutions in Europe, Brazil and are disappointing, says Cooper. “There relationship between fi tness and success
Japan, which could be used as has been some improvement in the sixth in school],” he adds.
springboards. Meanwhile, Dr Cooper to eighth grades, but overall the year
himself is in talks with the University two test results are not that different BRITISH VISION
of Munich about implementing a from year one. The problem is that many It’s not only in the US that Cooper’s
study in Germany, and he’s been to of our schools don’t have qualifi ed PE children’s fitness study is creating waves.
China to promote the initiative there. teachers, so the programmes are being From the outset, Murdo Wallace has
poorly supervised.” been following Cooper’s efforts with
36 Read Health Club Management online february 2010 © cybertrek 2010
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