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2014 Youth Physical Activity Grade: D-

2014 Youth Physical Activity Grade: D-

Report Card By National Physical Activity Alliance

SILVER SPRING, MD – May 6, 2014 – If the month of May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in the U.S., then that message needs to be delivered to the youth of America.  Why?  Because American children are not physically active!  They are leading sedentary lives!

According to the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance (NPAPA), which has released the first U.S. Report Card on National Physical Activity PlanPhysical Activity for Children and Youth, U.S. children are failing at fitness.  The proportion of U.S. children who are active for 60 or more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity on at least five days per week is dismally low:  42% of 6-11 year olds and just 8% of 12-15 year olds in the U.S. meet the minimum criteria for activity.  America youth earned a D- on ‘overall physical activity.’

Compounding this negative report is the news that nearly half (46%) of U.S. children – ages 6-15 – are engaged in more than two hours of screen time per day.  That’s a D for ‘sedentary behaviors.’

To add insult to injury, the percentage of U.S. children who usually walk or ride a bicycle to school is a blip on the radar screen:  just 13%.  That’s an F for ‘active transportation.’

What’s the solution?  A good start is daily P.E. in all schools for all students – K-12.  If not, the consequences may well become dire. There is definitive research that a child who has P.E. in school is 2-3 times more likely to be active outside of school.  Next, mothers and fathers need to enroll their children into sports and activity programs in their community. PHIT America has a database of 60 sports or fitness activities for you to research and find a program in your area. Check out this Participate list here. Parents are role models for their children. If parents are active, there’s a strong chance that their children will follow their parent’s lead.

"We hope the Report Card will galvanize researchers, health professionals, community members, and policy makers across the U.S. to improve our children's physical activity opportunities," says Peter Katzmarzyki, Ph.D., Chairman of the 2014 Report Card Research Advisory Committee.

"The results of the Report Card show that we have our work cut out for us,” says Dr. Russell Pate, professor of exercise science; University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC) and a committee member of the 2014 Report Card Research Advisory Committee.  “However, the good news is that we have numerous evidence based strategies for promoting physical activity in kids.  We must advocate aggressively for widespread implementation of those strategies."

“Physical inactivity is the biggest public health problem in the 21st Century,” says Dr. Steven  Blair, professor of the departments of exercise science and epidemiology/biostatistics; Arnold School of Public Health; University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC).

“People need to move,” declares Dr. Jordan Metzl, sports medicine doctor, New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery (New York, NY).  “It’s absolutely necessary that all Americans must understand and appreciate the value of a lifestyle filled with activity, fitness and exercise.”

Dr. Blair, Dr. Metzl, and Dr. Pate are also members of Doctors for a PHIT America, formed to help Americans understand the magnitude of the power of daily physical activity.

“Not only are physical activity, exercise and physical fitness activities good for the human body, there is plenty of evidence that physical activity is the best prescription for total health – for the body, mind and spirit,” says Jim Baugh, founder of PHIT America.

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