JFK’s Fitness Programme (1961-1962)


Part of a mid-century scare about America’s children and the future of the American military, the following post details the 35th President of the United States, J. F. Kennedy’s efforts to test and improve the population’s health.

The previous decade had seen the roll out of mass physical testing requirements for American schoolchildren, a point we shall return to in a future post. J.F.K’s election saw the President express his desire to tackle the Nation’s ill health. Upon his election in 1961, the President and his team released over 200,000 copies of the below work to American schools.

Termed the US Physical Fitness Program, it aimed to increase the Nation’s strength. Aside from circulating the book, a core group of almost a quarter of a million schoolchildren took part in pilot projects in six states to test Kennedy’s approved training system.

The result? More children passed the President’s fitness test than before. It seemed to have worked.

What was this magical system? See for yourself. Can you do all ten exercises? Furthermore, what exercises would you use nowadays to challenge children?


Conditioning Exercises

      1. Bend and Stretch 10 reps
      2. Knee Lift 10 left, 10 right
      3. Wing Stretch 20 reps
      4. Half Knee Bend 10 reps
      5. Arm Circles 15 each way
      6. Body Bend 10 left, 10 right
      7. Prone Arch 10 reps
      8. Knee Pushup 6
      9. Head and Shoulder Crawl 5
      10. Ankle Stretch 15 reps


  1. Circulatory Activity 


  1. Walking 1/2 Mile
  2. Rope (Skip 15 secs, Rest 60 secs) 3 series

As always…Happy Lifting!