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SD Students More Fit Than Others In CA, Still Need Improvement

About 30 to 40 percent of San Diego fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders were able to meet all the fitness criteria in a six-stage test, scoring slightly better than students across the state but highlighting a need a to improve children's health, California's schools chief announced today.

"Nothing is more important than the health of our children, and today's results show that many of them need a helping hand to get fit and stay in shape," state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said.

Torlakson announced plans to begin a campaign called Team California for Healthy Kids to "help students adopt the health habits that will help them succeed in the classroom today -- and help them stay healthy over a lifetime."

About 1.32 million students across California were administered the Fitnessgram test, which measures students' health in six areas -- aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, a trunk-extensor exercise, upper body strength and flexibility.

According to the state Department of Education, scoring in the "Healthy Fitness Zone" would require a ninth-grade male to run a mile within nine minutes, perform a minimum of 16 pushups and 24 curl-ups.

The test results showed that in San Diego County, 29.5 percent of fifth-graders scored in the healthy range in all six categories, along with 41.2 percent of seventh-graders and 43.5 percent of ninth-graders.

The statewide success rate was 28.7 percent for fifth-graders, 34.6 percent for seventh-graders and 38.5 percent for ninth-graders. Those results represented a slight decrease from last year's results for fifth-graders, and small increases for seventh- and ninth-graders, according to the DOE.

Torlakson said the new fitness campaign would link schools with community leaders and athletes to generate partnerships and spotlight efforts to get students to exercise more -- both at school and at home.

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