Fitness Fact Friday – “The Soft American”

Back in December of 1960 President-Elect John F. Kennedy wrote an article for Sports Illustrated called The Soft American. In this article he references a research study that was conducted by Dr. Hans Kraus and Dr. Sonja Weber (Kraus Weber Test), in which they tested the physical strength and ability of American youth compared to that of Europeans.

The test was made up of six parts. Here they are:

Test No. 1. With his feet held on the ground by the examiner, the subject lies flat on his back with his hands behind the neck. Perform one sit-up.

Test No. 2. The subject is in the same position except that his knees are bent with his ankles close to the buttocks. Perform one sit-up.

Test No. 3. The subject lies flat on his back with his hands behind his neck. The legs are straight and lifted 10 inches off the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds.

Test No. 4. The subject lies on his stomach with a pillow under his lower abdomen and groin. The examiner holds his feet down. Lift head, shoulders, and chest off the floor and hold for 10 seconds.

Test No. 5. The subject’s position is the same, but the examiner holds the chest down. With knees straight, lift legs off floor and hold for 10 seconds.

Test No. 6. The subject stands erect, barefooted, and with feet together. The examiner holds the knees straight. Bend over slowly and touch the floor with the fingertips. Hold this position for 3 seconds

The results are astonishing. Nearly 60% of American children failed one or more of these test, whereas only about 9% of European children failed.

In his article, John F. Kennedy talks extensively about the importance of fitness for our youth and our nation. I would like to share the final paragraph with you:

All of us must consider our own responsibilities for the physical vigor of our children and of the young men and women of our community. We do not want our children to become a generation of spectators. Rather, we want each of them to be a participant in the vigorous life.

What do you think? Have things changed? Are we a generation of spectators? Could your child or children you know pass the Kraus Weber Test listed above? Have the advancements in all forms of media pushed our children from their playgrounds and fields back onto their couches? (If so, try these steps.) What are you doing to ensure our Nation’s next generation is not considered “SOFT!?”

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One comment

  1. Carolyn Lecce says:

    Despite the slow start – and the bumps along the way – I added a zumba class to break up my slightly boring exercise routine. The BEST part was that although I found out that my first class Zumba-Tone is harder than regular Zumba, I was able to keep up with the weights AND although a little bit sore, I didn’t feel like I expected. AND THAT was because I was already in better shape THANKS to you guys and our first 4 weeks! Yay!! This was a good motivator for me, despite going left when they went right hahaha

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