The President's Council on Youth Fitness was founded on 16 July 1956 to encourage American children to be healthy and active children, after a study indicating that American youths are less physically fit than European children, by then President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In 1961, Kennedy discussed physical fitness with Wilma Rudolph.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy then changed the council's name to President's Council on Physical Fitness to reflect its role to serve all Americans.
In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson created the Presidential Physical Fitness Award, name of which was later changed to President's Challenge Youth Physical Fitness Awards Program. In 1968, the council's name was changed to President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports to emphasize the importance of sports in life.
In 1972, the Presidential Sports Award Program was created.