We compared the fitness levels of cohorts of 15-year-old youth in 1988 and 2001 to ascertain whether there was a negative trend in fitness. The subjects were 15-year-old boys and girls from the same geographical area, n = 192 in 1988 and n = 191 in 2001. They participated voluntarily and could leave the project whenever they wished. The following variables were used to assess fitness: Maximal oxygen uptake, jump height, shoulder flexibility, and hamstring flexibility. Maximal oxygen uptake was estimated with submaximal ergometer cycling, jump height by the Sargent jump-and-reach test, shoulder flexibility as the distance between thumbs when doing straight-arm backwards circling while holding a broomstick, and hamstring flexibility by an active straight-leg-raise test. Differences between groups and quartiles were analyzed by Gosset’s (Student’s) t-test, using a significance level of 0.05. The two cohorts did show different levels of physical fitness. The 1988 group was 3.9 cm better on jump height and 4.2 cm better on shoulder flexibility, while the 2001 group had 3.3° better hamstring flexibility. The lowest performing quartile did less well in 2001 on oxygen uptake and jump height. We recommend an increased focus on improving fitness in low-performing adolescents.
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