One Quarter of Youth Met National Activity Guidelines

Fitness recommendations were not followed by most youth

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Getting outside to play seems like an easy task for most kids, but a new study revealed that many young people don’t do it enough. Researchers looked closely at how and how often children exercise.

Researchers recently looked closely at how and how often children exercised. Their study focused on youth between 12 and 15 years of age.

This study showed that fitness guidelines established in 2008 have not been widely adopted.

These researchers found that activity levels dropped the more overweight a child became. However, the girls in the study were less affected by weight than boys.

"Talk to your doctor before starting any new fitness routine."

This study was led by Tala H.I. Fakhouri, PhD, MPH, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

This research team looked at the combined data from two national surveys — the 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the 2012 NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey (NNYFS). NHANES assessed the health and nutritional status of the entire civilian population in the US. The 2012 NNYFS assessed the physical activity and fitness levels of children and adolescents aged 3–15 years to examine their health and fitness.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which have been adopted by First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative and the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend that youth participate in daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes.

The study showed that 24.8 percent of youth between 12 and 15 reported being moderately to vigorously active for at least one hour a day.

The researchers found that basketball was the most common activity among boys and running was the most common among girls. Bike riding and walking were also popular among both genders, while football ranked highly with boys and dancing with girls.

This study showed that adolescents were less active the more overweight they became, especially boys. A total of 29.5 percent of normal or overweight boys engaged in an hour of moderate-to-vigorous activity per day, while only 18 percent of obese boys did the same.

Girls displayed less of a drop, with 24.1 percent of normal-weight, 20.1 percent of overweight and 19.6 percent of obese individuals engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on every day of the week for at least 60 minutes.

"The results of this research parallel what we have seen in our students in over 30 years of training high performance tennis athletes," said Jack Newman, Head Coach and CEO of Austin Tennis Academy.

"Athletes who trained and competed as juniors and college age have [been] seen to carry that health consciousness forward into their adult lives. Our former students continue to live an athletic lifestyle well into their adulthood," Newman told dailyRx News.

The weight definitions used for this study were based on the CDC's sex-specific 2000 body mass index (BMI)-for-age growth charts for the United States.

This study was published January 8 online by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Review Date: 
January 8, 2014
Last Updated:
January 9, 2014