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The Cooper Institute
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History of Fitnessgram

Fitnessgram was created in 1982 by The Cooper Institute to provide an easy way for physical education teachers to report to parents on children's fitness levels. Then and now, students are assessed in these areas of health-related fitness: cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition. Scores are evaluated against objective criterion-based standards, called Healthy Fitness Zone® standards, that indicate the level of fitness necessary for health. Fitnessgram software generates the student and parent reports, which contain objective, personalized feedback and positive reinforcement. These reports serve as a communications link between teachers and parents.

The Healthy Fitness Zone standards were developed by The Fitnessgram Scientific Advisory Board, a team of scientists and practitioners who are experts in the field of health and fitness, based on extensive research on the relationship between fitness, activity, and health. For more about the development of the Healthy Fitness Zone criterion-referenced standards, and why those standards are important, see the Reference Guide.

For in-depth information about the origins and evolution of Fitnessgram, see the article in "History of Fitnessgram" from a special issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2006, Vol. 3, Supplement 2.

Below you'll find more information about the organizations behind Fitnessgram.

About the Cooper Institute

In 1970, Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, the "Father of Aerobics," founded The Cooper Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to helping people live longer, healthier lives. The Cooper Center Longitudinal Study (CCLS), made up of almost 100,000 patients' data records, is one of the most highly referenced databases in the world. This database has become a one-of-a-kind resource, and it will become even more vital to the world's health with the inclusion of genetic data from an in-house blood bank. With over 600 peer-reviewed publications and intervention programs, The Cooper Institute is a worldwide leader in these areas:

  • Clinical studies on the management of chronic conditions, including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes
  • Research on physical activity and its effects on morbidity and mortality as well as prevention of chronic diseases
  • Collaborative research initiatives with major medical institutions that include preventive medicine and research in genetics, nutrition, cardiovascular disease, mental function and healthy brain aging, and cancer
  • Customized training and courses for health and fitness leaders, including law enforcement, the military, and firefighters, and a nationally accredited personal trainer certification exam
  • Educational products and a donor-funded free Web site for all to disseminate information on healthy living at

Because The Cooper Institute is a nonprofit organization, it relies heavily on private donations and funding from foundations and corporations to support its research and education programs.

Fitnessgram Scientific Advisory Board

The Cooper Institute is fortunate to have an exceptional group of scientist and practioners who work with the Fitnessgram program. This group provides scientific input and direction for program administrators. Many of the advisors have been involved with the Fitnessgram program for more than 15 years.

Kirk J. Cureton, PhD
University of Georgia

Scott Going, PhD
University of Arizona

Dolly Lambdin, EdD
University of Texas at Austin

Matt Mahar, EdD
East Carolina University

James R. Morrow, Jr., PhD
University of North Texas

Sharon A. Plowman, PhD
University of Northern Illinois - Retired

Stephen Pont, MD, MPH, FAAP
Dell Children's Medical Center

Judith Prochaska, PhD
University of California, San Francisco

Georgi Roberts, MS
Fort Worth I.S.D., Fort Worth, Texas

Weimo Zhu, PhD
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Don Disney, MS, MA
The Cooper Institute, Director of Youth Initiatives

Marilu D. Meredith, EdD
The Cooper Institute, former program director

Catherine Vowell, MBA,
The Cooper Institute, FITNESSGRAM Director

Gregory J. Welk, PhD
Iowa State University, scientific director

Emeritus Members

Charles B. Corbin, PhD
Arizona State University - Retired

Robert P. Pangrazi, PhD
Arizona State University - Retired

Russell R. Pate, PhD
University of South Carolina

Charles L. Sterling, EdD
The Cooper Institute, founder

Steven N. Blair, PED, MPH
University of South Carolina

Harold B. Falls, Jr., PhD
Southwest Missouri State University

Timothy G. Lohman, PhD
University of Arizona

Magaret J. Safrit, PhD
American University

James F. Sallis, PhD
San Diego State University

About Human Kinetics­

Human Kinetics, publisher of Fitnessgram, is committed to providing quality informational and educational resources that meet the needs of our diverse customers in the physical activity and health fields. The mission of Human Kinetics is to produce innovative, informative products in all areas of physical activity that help people worldwide lead healthier, more active lives.

Published by Human Kinetics, Inc.

© 2015 Human Kinetics

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