A health related physical fitness programme among school children last year showed that not even 20 per cent of Kerala’s school children were physically fit.

What were tested under the total physical fitness programme was the capacity of heart and lungs, aerobic capacity, body mass index and flexibility of body. The tests covered 16.29 lakh children in 2008-09. Of them, only 19.61 per cent had minimum physical fitness. Only 4.1 per cent of the children could win more than 75 points (C Grade) in all tests.

Large number of girls were found to lack in abdominal strength. Only ten-year-old girls were better when considering the average scores. Girls were found to lose their abdominal strength as they grow. More than 53 per cent of the girls could not make the grade in tests of abdominal strength. The percentage was 68.3 among 15-year-old girls. Majority of them (64.82 per cent) lacked flexibility of body. Their percentage rose to 73.11 by the time they reached 15 years of age.

Boys were also found to lose their fitness as they grow. The State averages for those aged 10-12 was equivalent to D grade. (Only 474 boys and girls had won A grade in second round of tests conducted by State Testing Authority. A grade required more than 90 points.)The condition of others were worse. Nearly 54 per cent of boys had the necessary abdominal strength and 78.67 had strong upper body parts. Only 38.53 per cent fared well in respect of flexibility of the body.

This alarming situation is the result of lack of sufficient physical exercise. Students could not find time for physical activities as they move to higher levels of study. Girls kept away from physical activities because of societal inequalities and barriers.