Did you know that there were actual physical activity guidelines? Well there is and in a new report this week released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only a small percentage of youth have met the objective for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities outlined in the Healthy People 2020 (HP 2020) physical activity guidelines.

The CDC evaluated data from the 2010 National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study (NYPANS), a school-based study conducted by the CDC that included height and weight measurements, and a survey that measured physical activity and dietary behaviors among a nationally representative sample of students in grades nine to 12 to determine the proportion of U.S. youths who meet the HP 2020 objectives. The data revealed that 15.3% of students met the aerobic objective, 51% met the muscle-strengthening objective, and 12.2% met the objective for both. The data also revealed that female students, students in upper grades, and students with obesity had lower rates of meeting the objective for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

All of this news comes in on the heels of a similar CDC report that states that kids are also drinking too much soda pop.

This study serves as the first assessment of achievement of both aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity recommendations among a nationally representative sample of high school students, and its results justify the need to improve and increase efforts to promote physical activity among youths.

Barriers to increasing youth physical activity participation include students’ reluctance to participate because of low confidence levels in their physical abilities, lack of awareness of physical activity benefits, lack of family/peer support, lack of choices in physical education (PE) curriculum activities, and inadequate school/community facilities or resources for physical activity.

The CDC’s Guide to Community Preventive Services recommends evidence-based strategies to increase physical activity, such as enhancing school-based PE programs by increasing the length of classes or activity levels in PE classes. The guide also recommends creation of or enhanced access to places for physical activity combined with informational outreach activities about their location and availability.

Regular physical activity is linked to enhanced health and to reduced risk for all-cause mortality and the development of many chronic diseases in adults. However, many U.S. adults are either sedentary or less physically active than recommended. Children and adolescents are more physically active than adults, but participation in physical activity declines in adolescence. School and community programs have the potential to help children and adolescents establish lifelong, healthy physical activity patterns.

Distinctions between physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness are useful in understanding health research. Physical activity is “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that result in energy expenditure…. Exercise is a subset of physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive” and is done to improve or maintain physical fitness. Physical fitness is “a set of attributes that are either health- or skill-related.” Health-related fitness includes cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition; skill-related fitness includes balance, agility, power, reaction time, speed, and coordination.

Source: The U.S. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention

Written by Sy Kraft