Presidential physical fitness award badges, certificates & tests to make the team (1966-1987)

Presidential Physical Fitness

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In the ’60s, 70s & ’80s, kids across the country competed for the coveted Presidential Physical Fitness award.

HGere’s a look back at the exercise requirements, the awards, the badges and more!

About the Presidential Physical Fitness Award

Article from 1968

The Presidential Physical Fitness Award is the highest award given for performance on the AAHPER (American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation) Youth Fitness Test.

Established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, this award honors students who demonstrate exceptional physical achievement.

The Presidential Physical Fitness Award program is designed to: 1) motivate boys and girls to develop and maintain a high level of physical fitness; 2) encourage good testing programs in the schools; 3) stimulate improvement of health and physical education programs and 4) provide additional information on the physical condition of America’s youth.

The program was conceived by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and program details were developed jointly by the Council and the American Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. It is administered by these two organizations.

Presidential Physical Fitness Award program instructor's guide from 1987
The Presidential Physical Fitness Award Program, Featuring the President’s Challenge. Instructor’s Guide cover (1987)

The recipients — boys and girls ages 10-17 who score at or above the 85th percentile on all seven test items of the AAHPER-Youth Fitness Test will be eligible for the Presidential Award. They must also be students in good standing and be recommended by their school principals.

The award — recipients of the Presidential Physical Fitness Award receive an attractive certificate suitable for framing. Printed in gold and black, it bears the President’s signature, the Presidential seal, a congratulatory message and the recipient’s name.

In addition, schools are required to purchase an award emblem for each student qualifying for the honor. Three inches in diameter and embroidered in gold. red, and white on blue, the emblem is designed to be worn on sweaters, jackets or blazers.

The emblem bears a white numeral on a red field which indicates the number of times the recipient has won the Presidential Award. A new number will be added each year until 1973, when a distinguished group will become eligible to wear the first Presidential Physical Fitness Award emblems on which the numeral eight appears.

The seven tests are as follows: 1) pull ups (boys) or flexed arm hang for girls. 2) sit-ups: 3) shuttle run: 4) standing broad jump: 5) 50-yard dash: 6) softball throw for distance and 7) 600-yard run or walk.

The test scores are based upon the age, height and weight of each individual student or you can use the age alone for figuring the percentile of the participants. Norms or percentile scores are based upon tests taken previously by students aged 10-17 throughout the United States.

Presidential Physical Fitness Award certificate from Jimmy Carter

This certificate was “signed” by President Jimmy Carter sometime between 1977–1981, together with the patch below.

The Presidential Physical Fitness Award - Jimmy Carter

Presidential Physical Fitness Award certificates from Ronald Reagan

Presidential Physical Fitness Awards guidelines - Reagan

Tryout for the Presidential All-American Team (1967)

Every boy and girl 10 to 17 is eligible. This is a new kind of All America Team. Big guys have no advantage over little guys; boys have no advantage over girls.

In fact, the runts might beat the football heroes because this is a test of all-around physical fitness, not ability, in one sport.

Competition is with boys and girls the same age. Boys and girls who make the team will receive from President Johnson an award and a badge, proving they have strength, speed and endurance.

Now is the time to work out. Tryouts will be held in schools all over the country. The 7 exercises are right on this page.

ALSO SEE: See retro 1970s exercise equipment, weights & more fitness gear for the home gym

Presidential Physical Fitness ad from 1967

The exercises for the Presidential workout

1. Pull-ups: Boys – How many times can you pull your chin up to the bar? Girls – Pull your chin up to the bar. How long can you stay in this position?

2. Sit-ups: To make the team, girls must do 50 sit-ups, boys 100.

3. 50-yard dash: What’s your best time for 50-yard-dash?

4. Standing broad jump: How far can you jump without a running start? Bend your knees. Throw your arms back and find out.

5. Softball throw: With a running start, how far can you throw a softball?

6. Shuttle run: How long will it take you to do this twice? Run 30 feet. Pick up a block of wood. Run back.

7. 600-yard run-walk: Can you make it around the outside of a football field twice without pooping out?

The Presidential Physical Fitness ad from 1967

47 dangerous old playgrounds that our great-grandparents somehow survived

Presidential Physical Fitness award badge/patch/emblem – Year 1

The Presidential Physical Fitness Award badge - year 1

Kids are in school for 12 years. But most of them will never make a team. (1968)

Now there’s a new kind of team at school. The President’s All-America Team. And everybody’s got the chance to make it. Big guys have no advantage over little guys. Boys have no advantage over girls.

This is a test of all-around ability (not how good you are in one sport). Kids have to run, jump, sit-up, pull-up and throw a softball. Last year, 50,000 kids made the President’s All America Team. Tryouts are starting again in schools all over the country.

What can you do to help?

(1) You’ve already done something. Now you know a little bit about the program.

(2) Find out if your school participated last year. If not, you can write away for official application forms and other information to help you. Write: President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Washington, D.C.

(3) If you’re a physical education instructor, you can increase your students’ chances of making the President’s All America Team. Let them practice the seven basic exercises before the tryouts start.

(4) Encourage every student to get in shape and win the Presidential Physical Fitness Award. Can your students snake the President’s All America Team? They’ll never know unless they try out.

The Presidential Physical Fitness ad from 1968

The story of Pillsbury Space Food Sticks, the vintage snacks for astronauts that kids loved

Presidential Physical Fitness award badge – Year 6

The Presidential Physical Fitness Award badge - year 6

MORE: How Jane Fonda’s workout videos & exercise empire got us fit in the ’80s

State champion program (1987)

Established in 1972, the State Champion Program recognizes outstanding school achievement in physical fitness. The State Champion Award is presented annually to three schools in each State.

It goes to the schools that qualify the highest percentage of eligible students for the Physical Fitness Award in each of three enrollment categories: fewer than 100 students; 101-500 students; more than 500 students. Each winning school receives a certificate.

Every student who earns the Presidential Physical Fitness Award and helps the school become a State Champion receives a special embroidered State Champion emblem.

Presidential Physical Fitness Award - State Champion badge patch

Fitness program qualification requirements (1987)

Presidential Physical Fitness Award guidelines 1980s - Requirements for boys and girls

ALSO SEE: The jogging fad: When running was the retro fitness trend of the ’60s & ’70s

Letter to instructors from Ronald Reagan (1986)

The White House – Washington – July 16, 1986

Physical education plays a vital role in today’s society. Mounting medical, social, and psychological research continues to support the role of physical fitness in promoting mental and physical health, well-being, improved work capacity, and intellectual performance.

It is in the physical education environment, be it at school, in parks or recreation facilities, community centers, camps, and even hospitals, that children and youth learn this important association.

The Presidential Physical Fitness Award Program is designed to enhance the teaching of physical fitness. With a goal in mind, young people are encouraged to challenge their bodies to achieve a level of fitness considered to be outstanding.

Not all students will qualify, as is the case with any recognition program. But all students can be given the opportunity to try, and in the process improve and reach new levels of fitness.

This year the program has been changed, and now younger children will be eligible to participate. Since lifestyle patterns are established early in childhood, I am pleased to see that this change has been made; and I look forward to hearing about the first boys and girls in the new age groups to receive the award.

As administrators of the program, you hold the key to its success, and to the success of the children and youth in your charge. Accurate and useful information, taught with enthusiasm, will have a positive effect on tomorrow’s adults. We are a nation in search of excellence. Promoting physical fitness in education will help us achieve that goal.

Ronald Reagan

Presidential Physical Fitness Award - Intro letter from Ronald Reagan

MORE: 50 colorful vintage banana seat bikes for kids from the ’60s & ’70s

Presidential Physical Fitness Award guidelines 1987

Presidential Instructor Emblem (1987)

A Presidential Instructor Emblem is available to teachers and other instructors who qualify young people or the award. The emblem is four inches in diameter and embroidered in gold, red, white and blue.

Presidential Physical Fitness Award - Instructor emblem

Presidential Physical Fitness Awardfor year 7

ALSO SEE: 47 dangerous old playgrounds that our great-grandparents somehow survived

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Comments on this story

68 Responses

  1. I’d like to replace my stolen/lost awards. What information will you need me to provide you with in order to get them replaced and personalized.

    1. I also received a presidential physical fitness award in year 77 78 signed by President Jimmy Carter and would lie to replace both the certificate and the patch .I would love to put them with my other awards from school. Thank you

  2. I received the Presidential Physical Fitness Award while serving in the US Army in 1987 at Fort Huachuca, AZ by the US Army Intelligence Center And School. Do you have record of this award? Also, I need to obtain another patch since my patch was destroyed while in storage. Your response will be gratefully appreciated.

    Thank You,
    Anglia Davis-Emmendorfer
    Leavenworth, Kansas

  3. all of my Presidential Physical Fitness Awards (certificates & patches) were lost(certificates) and the patches were blown away in a Tornado in Omaha Nebraska. How does one go about getting replacements?
    Pam Knox Higgins

  4. My presidential physical fitness awards are loss.Can you please replace .The year recieve approximately 1971-1975. Please reply.I would truly appreciate. These awards are dear to my heart and I remember working extremely hard for them.

    Thank you so much.

  5. I too won the presidential physical fitness award signed by Jimmy Carter although no longer can find them. I would love ANY HELP of obtaining another one along with a patch. Can you please help? Thank you so much!

    1. I won the award in 1971,1972,1973, 1974 how can i find a duplicate of the patch and certificate ?? Miguel Olba my cell is 1 7864862491 . Where can i order a duplicate copy of them ?

  6. I also want to get replacement awards. I won them and they were lost or stolen. Please let me know if it’s possible to get them, thanks

  7. Does anyone remember how many pull ups a female had to do? I remember 50. I know it was 50 sit-ups, but I cannot remember any of the other requirements. Can anyone refresh my memory. Thanks very much!

    1. I won three award but I don’t remember all the requirements we had to do can u refresh my memory so I can share it with my grandkids thanks

  8. Terry R. Templin
    I received the Presidential Physical Fitness Award in 1967-68. I am now 58 years old and would love to replace this Award. Please notify me of how I may obtain information regarding this matter.

  9. Wondering if anybody remembers this. …back in the late 1960’s and early 70 there were the “Presidential” fitness tests. To earn that top patch was pretty tough to do—really tough actually…only 2 or three kids a year would earn it partaking in the gym class tests (ours were held using in the spring). But there were two other patches/certificates levels a kid could earn if he/she was a decent athlete. If I remember correctly the patch had a triangle enclosed in circle with silhouettes of two figures with their arms and legs spread like doing jumping jacks. I think the patches had embroidered print reading: “fitness usa aahper,” around its circumference and said “merit” within the inner circle. One featured a yellow/goldish color, and I think I remember it being called the “80th Percentile.” The other had a white background and was called the “50th Percentile” Does this ring a bell to anybody? Thanks!

    1. I participated as well and won a patch that was yellow/gold in the background with the jumping jack. They had a school assembly and indicated I had placed third in the nation for my age group. My Mom took the patch and sewed it on my jacket which was lost so I was also looking to see if I could get a replacement.

    2. Yes, in 1972 my 9th grade class produced 3 guys who could achieve the award. I was one of them. You had todo 20 pull-ups, run 600yds in about 1:40 or faster, and do sit-ups ina set time which I can’t remember. We had about 1000 boys in the 9th grade class.

    3. Yes! I was an elementary Physical Education teacher and many of my students received the awards. Three years in a row they got a trophy

  10. 1968, I was the first freshman to win first place Wilson h.s. hacienda heights. 60 sit up, push up, and more events. It was fun times

  11. yes i was a award winner and was told at the time i was the first to receive my 2nd award in two years my parents there them out is there any way to get replacements.

  12. I also won 7 patches and was told if you completed all 7 you would be invited to the white house! Long story and many years later. I won a Gold Medal at the Olympics and did not make it for that accomplishment either.

  13. Recalling this test and worked my ass off to get this award which I did in the 8th grade.
    over 8′ in the standing broad jump, 14 pull ups, 1:48 in the 600 yd run, 9.3 secs in the shuttle run, 180 ft in the softball throw (not great), and 7.2 secs in the 50 yd dash (also not great)..All that …and still didn’t impress the girl I had a huge crush on! Got a silver at the Junior Olympics for this. Averaged about 8′ 4″ in the standing long jump and was only 5’3″ tall at the time.

  14. Like everyone else in the forum, I would do anything to replace my two presidential awards from the 70s with patches… tell me what I have to do? thank you… Master J. Townsend Tremblay

  15. I remember busting my ass for this in the 7th grade, and our lazy teacher never submitted the info or whatever needed to be done – so we never got our awards! That really hurt for a 12 year old. You can’t imagine – seeing it advertised on TV (when there were only 3 and a half channels and NO way to record them), seeing the magazine ads for the program – and you were going to earn the award, too! Now, Nixon is dead, the program is long gone, and I have been pissed ever since. I’ve also developed a bad attitude towards athletics for going on 50 years. I helped get rid of it as a requirement in our school system. It’s nothing but a disappointment. Take that.

      1. I received mine as well when I was 12. I also lost it and would like to know how to replace it. It wasen’ Easy to get; that’s why I never forgot about it to this day I am very proud.

  16. I remember these things. All year long for P.E. we would play kickball, dodgeball, volleyball, then, for one week, we were all expected to do these physical fitness tests: push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, broad-jumps, softball throw, 50-yard-dash, etc. Most of us did horribly. Why didn’t they have us doing those exercises at least a few times a week throughout the year? A couple of days after the tests EVERYONE was sore and could hardly walk without limping. Poor planning on the school’s part.

  17. I received this award in 1981 and I was the only one in my school that had ever received it. I still have the patch and use this to teach my kids to give your all at any chance you get. I was not the most athletic kid in my school but, I had heart.

  18. I remember these so well I received this award 4 times in a row and was the only one in our school to achieve this. I still have 3 badges and the certificates that were signed by Richard Nixon (2) and re other by Lyndon Johnson some time over the years I have lost one of my badges .😢

  19. I was fortunate enough to pass the test all 5 years. My good friend at the time also passed it every year and we urged/coached each other along. The first 3 years, we were the only ones in school to pass the test (pull ups were by far the hardest segment those first 2 years). I remember crying that first year because our P.E teacher was very much “by the book” and questioned wether my chin cleared the bar 100% on my last rep. She reluctantly agreed- although by my hairless chinny-chin-chin. By 7th grade, more guys were passing and a few girls.
    I often wonder what percentage of children passed that test every year? I also felt that there should have been an additional award for those who passed every year. I was very proud of the fact at the time. I didn’t play any school sports, as I was busy practicing martial arts.
    I’m also exceptionally proud of my younger sister who went on to pass the test 5 times in her own right. Quite the accomplishment. Like many others here, I somehow lost my patches and certificates over the years. Too bad.

  20. Michael , July 28, 2018. Hello. I was an athlete for the 12 years I was in public school. I played football and baseball but I got tired of team sports. I began skateboarding, surfing and my love .motocross! I was fed up with the egos of team sports elite. My question is I received 6 or 7 presidential physical fitness awards and patches but I am not sure of exactly how many and what years they were awarded? How do I find this out? I received patches with the wrong numbers because I was told they did not have higher numbered patches, so I have patches1-5 and 2-#1’s and 2-#3’s and 2-#5’s. Please contact me with this information if possible. Thank you

  21. Good day. I don’t remember exactly how many patches I received, I think it was 7 or 8 but I am not sure. I remember a couple of years I was the only person in the school that received one. I believe I still hold the sit up record in elementary, middle and high school. 72 in one minute. I was wondering how I can document exactly how many I received and the years that I did. Thank you

  22. Rudi here. I remember this program so well. Won my patch spring 1968. Still on my gym suit. So proud. A non athlete so this was something 4 me. I really pushed myself. Randolph Jr High. No gym teacher pushing or helping me cause probably thought I’d never make it. Timed running the hardest. Only made it cause I knew if I could keep up with fastest girl n class I had a chance. 66 now & still so proud of that patch. Hard work & gym teacher was no push over. We pushed ourselves hard guys. Proud 2 be a member of this yeam.

  23. I was told when I graduated high school in ‘83 there were only a few who have ever done this 8 years in a row? But it was something a few looked forward to each year and trying to be better every time out! Sorry kids need the push to succeed and this was a great one!

  24. I was one of only 2 students awarded in 1966-67 for the first time at Catholic University in Puerto Rico the physical fitness award. Where I can get a replacement patch and certification. Thanks

  25. My father gave me 8 patches and told me that they were mine. I remember earning many patches but I was involved in sports heavily. I remember being the only person in my school to receive the patch one year. I was wondering if there were records kept pertaining to the years kids earned the patch and if I could get copies to show my kids?

  26. I too received the Presidential Fitness Award I believe in High School, Apollo, in Glendale, AZ; the year was I believe 1987-88. I, too, would like to obtain another copy of my certification from back then please if possible. It was cool to have something signed by President Reagan & endorsed by Arnold Schwarzenegger as it was the 1980’s.

  27. I won mine in 1969 in Houston, Tx. when I was 10.
    It was signed by Richard Nixon and I would love to get a copy.
    As a 60yr old female, I would Love to have certificate and patch to share with my Grandchildren!

  28. Does anyone know the difference between the AAHPER “Elementary Merit” award (Blue patch with 2 kids outstretched arms) and the Presidential award? I received both and still have them, but can’t remember the difference. Were they 2 different programs, with different tests and levels? Or the same ‘program’ (presidential fitness) but the 1st one for elementary school and Presidential for middle and high school? I’ve seen some of those AAHPER patches say ‘elementary merit’ and others say just ‘merit’. DOes anyone have insight into the differences with all of these. I have a feeling the AAHPER patch is probably just a lower award of the presidential fitness award., like finishing lower percentile. But i really don’t remember. Thanks


  30. I won the presidential physical fitness award in 1966 at Miami Springs Junior High.
    How can I get a certificate and patch replacement?
    Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

  31. I lost my presidential award to a house fire, can I get a replacement? Mine was issued in 1970.

  32. I Still have mine from ’74 signed by President Nixon(could’ve been ’73 depending on the time of yr we took the test). I’m Thinking spring, but honestly don’t remember if it was spring or fall, don’t wamt to dig out @ the moment. Saved it for I’mgreat- grandkids to do w/what they want. Out of curiosity am wondering if I’m even saving for a reason;any idea what these ‘artifacts’ may be worth? I have both certificate & patch in pristine condition. (Not for sale– just curios!)

  33. I received the Presidential Fitness badge and letter in 1969 at Marshall High School Marshall, Mo. I have since lost them. Is there a registry of winners by name, year and school?

  34. I have 5 patches that are still in excellent shape and certificates. I attended Mcharg elementary and Dalton middle school and earned a award from 1975 to 1980. It was biggest accomplishment for me to earn thus award and very proud to showcase my patches.



  36. Any way to get replacement certificates? I earned the Presidential Physical Fitness Award several times, but only still have the first one I ever earned (probably because it’s framed).Any way I can get replacement certificates? I need 4 from the Jimmy Carter Era. Please advise. Thank you. Deborah Paiuk ( back then)

  37. Hello, I would love to have a replacement certificate and patch. I lived in Alexandria, Virginia at the time I earned the Presidential Physical Fitness Award. It would be so great to have it and share this with my grandchildren! Thank you – Florence Clemons

  38. I would love my presidential physical fitness award and patch replaced please to share with my grandkids.Thank you so much.. I think of them often. The school was Booker T. Washington elementary in Chester, Pa. I was in 6th grade. I think the year was 1968/69 Nijirii Stallings

  39. I also have lost my presidental fitness award from ronald reagan and its the only thing ive every really acomished i was 14 years old and it was the last year i was in school 1985 spent most of my life in prison i could and should of been much more.
    Does anyone know where i can find the records of that year 1985

  40. How can I get a presidential physical fitness certificate, signed by President Jimmy Carter, had my patch and certificate stolen in a house break in, why would someone steal those things. Thanks in advance.

  41. I received I believe 2 Presidential Awards in California in 5th and 6th grade signed by President Ronald Regan. I would love to have them and show my kids. I didn’t think much of it when I was 11 years old. Looking back it is something I am really proud of. I ended up playing Division 1 soccer at SDSU. I went to Sycamore Elementary School in Orange, CA 92868. I remember my Principal was Mrs. Cohen. Do you have the records. If not where can I find them? Thank you J Viveros

  42. My stepmother who was very abusive threw mine away immediately after taking it out of the mail box and reading it then deliberately keep it from me to hurt me. I was 10 years old and just competing 4th in 1976. How can I get another one.

  43. So nice to hear boomers recalling their heyday. I’m 31, a millenial, and this was gone by the time I was born.

  44. Back in 1993-1994 at St. Francis Prep, I won the Presidential Award. Not only that, but my gym teacher Mr. McGinly informed me I had achieved overall top in the nation. I did amazingly great in the curl ups and the pull-ups and sit and reach was very strong. My mile was my weakest event, but I did do very well. As a sophomore the only time that beat me was a Junior, but aside from that I had all the other top spots. Perhaps being like 80 pounds and exercising my whole life on monkey bars and handball courts every single day coupled with the work at home my father had me do helped. Anyway I got 2 patches that year. One said Presidential, the other patch however Mr. McGinly handed me a couple weeks later when he stopped me before phys ed gym class that had gold thread around it. He also told me that day I do not need to go to PhysEd class anymore while in high school, that the Dean Ted John approved of them becoming free periods for me also. Which was a shock because I got into a couple of fights that found me in the dean’s office, so I knew I did do something amazing to get the dean to do something nice and only for me. Anyway someone I knew stole it from my room as I had it on my mirror(jealousy). I am happy I still have the other patch to go with my father’s(R.I.P.) who won his back in the late 1950s. If there is records, how do I go about getting that patch back with the gold thread border? Also I would LOVE to help make this have meaning. I always have hated being good ,heck great all around athletic and watching those who are great in one sport get all the greatness of fame and sorts. I am like a Frankenstein of athletes, like many who have won the Presidential Fitness Award. If not for me, I would like to see scholarships and other bonuses be given to the future winners. How can I help this happen?

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