A Comparison of the Fitness, Obesity, and Physical Activity Levels of High School Physical Education Students Across Race and Gender


  • Kathryn L. Davis Winthrop University
  • Janet R. Wojcik Winthrop University
  • Christi S. DeWaele Winthrop University




fitness measures, physical activity measures, obesity, gender and racial groups, high school physical education


Introduction: Little is known about the physical fitness, obesity, and physical activity (PA) levels of high school students in physical education classes when comparing racial and gender groups. Purpose: To compare the fitness, obesity, and PA levels of female and male students of different racial groups in 6 high schools in the southeastern United States. Methods: Three fitness measures (PACER, Modified Curl-Ups, and the Back-Saver Sit and Reach), as well as BMI, body fat percentage, and PA data, were obtained from 413 youth (216 females, 197 males, 14.8 ± .84 years). Additionally, fitness levels, prevalence of obesity, and PA patterns of genders and races were compared between groups. Results: Fitness, body fat, and PA data were significantly better for males than for females other than back-saver sit and reach, for which females performed higher. There were no gender differences in BMI. White students scored significantly better than Black students on fitness, body fat, PA, and BMI except back-saver sit and reach right side. Conclusions: The study suggests a strong need for more active physical education programs that are appropriate for developing the fitness and PA levels of high school students, especially females and Black students, and for programs that motivate students to improve their fitness and PA levels beyond and outside of high school. 

Author Biographies

Kathryn L. Davis, Winthrop University

Associate Professor, Physical Education Teacher Education

Janet R. Wojcik, Winthrop University

Associate Professor, Exercise Science

Christi S. DeWaele, Winthrop University

Assistant Professor, Sport Management