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Research Based Physical Activity
Physical Activity Report
Physical Activity Facts from the CDC
  • Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence improves strength and endurance, helps build healthy bones and muscles, helps control weight, reduces anxiety and stress, increases self-esteem, and may improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels.1

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that young people aged 6–17 years participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.2

  • In 2013, 27.1% of high school students surveyed had participated in at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity on all 7 days before the survey, and only 29% attended physical education class daily.3

  • Schools can promote physical activity through comprehensive school physical activity programs, including recess, classroom-based physical activity, intramural physical activity clubs, interscholastic sports, and physical education.

  • Schools should ensure that physical education is provided to all students in all grades and is taught by qualified teachers.

  • Schools can also work with community organizations to provide out-of-school-time physical activity programs and share physical activity facilities.

Regular physical activity—
  • Helps build and maintain healthy bones and muscles.1

  • Helps reduce the risk of developing obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colon cancer.1

  • Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and promotes psychological well-being.1

  • May help improve students’ academic performance, including

    • Academic achievement and grades

    • Academic behavior, such as time on task

    • Factors that influence academic achievement, such as concentration and attentiveness in the classroom.4

Long-Term Consequences of Physical Inactivity
  • Overweight and obesity, which are influenced by physical inactivity and poor diet, can increase one’s risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, arthritis, and poor health status.5-7

  • Physical inactivity increases one’s risk for dying prematurely, dying of heart disease, and developing diabetes, colon cancer, and high blood pressure.1

Participation in Physical Activity by Young People
  • In a nationally representative survey, 77% of children aged 9–13 years reported participating in free-time physical activity during the previous 7 days.4 

  • In 2013, only 29% percent of high school students had participated in at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity on each of the 7 days before the survey.3 

  • 15.2% percent of high school students had not participated in 60 or more minutes of any kind of physical activity onany day during the 7 days before the survey.3

  • Participation in physical activity declines as young people age.3

Key Resources 
  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee report.Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008. 

  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2008. 

  3. CDC. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2013. MMWR 2014;63(SS-4).

  4. CDC. The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.

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