Healthcare Economy

Huge Study Shows American Kids Don't Get Enough Exercise

A large new study released today shows that American children fall short of the amount of exercise they need each day. The figures vary by both geography and type of exercise.

The research was released by the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) Alliance, which releases a report card on children and youth physical activity and exercises every two years. The current version is called the 2018 U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, and its purpose is to assess “the levels of physical activity and sedentary behaviors in American children and youth.” Another goal of the study is to examine circumstances that prevent children from getting the necessary amount of exercise per day. This threshold is one hour of physical activity. The age group measured is children and youth ages 6 to 17 years old.

Most of the members of the committee that oversaw the study were academicians, led by Peter T. Katzmarzyk, PhD, FACSM, FAHA, Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Pennington is part of Louisiana State University.

The results are based on nine indicators of physical activity:

  1. Overall physical activity
  2. Sedentary behaviors
  3. Active transportation
  4. Organized sport participation
  5. Active play
  6. Health-related fitness
  7. Family and peers
  8. Schools
  9. Community and the built environment

Additionally, activities are broken into three segments: aerobic activity, muscle strengthening activity and bone-strengthening activity. The most aerobic exercise involves walking or running. Muscle strengthening activity is dominated by climbing and lifting weights. Bone-strengthening includes running and skipping rope.

Geography is another key marker for whether children are likely to reach the benchmarks. States are measured based on the percentage of the residents between ages 6 and 17 that hit the appropriate exercise activity levels. Montana was at the top of the list with at 53%, while Arkansas was at the bottom with 35%.

United States 46.5
Montana 53.4 1
Kansas 52.6 2
California 51.7 3
Nebraska 51.7 3
North Dakota 51.5 5
New Mexico 51.2 6
Idaho 50.4 7
Colorado 49.8 8
Illinois 49.3 9
Iowa 49.2 10
Vermont 49.1 11
Wisconsin 48.7 12
Oklahoma 48.1 13
Utah 47.4 14
New Hampshire 47.2 15
Nevada 46.4 16
Arizona 46.3 17
Missouri 46.2 18
Massachusetts 45.7 19
Michigan 45.6 20
West Virginia 44.4 21
Tennessee 44.1 22
Connecticut 44.0 23
Delaware 43.5 24
Texas 42.9 25
New York 42.4 26
Pennsylvania 42.4 26
North Carolina 42.3 28
Virginia 42.3 28
Maine 42.2 30
Alaska 41.4 31
Rhode Island 41.3 32
Kentucky 40.6 33
Florida 39.3 34
South Carolina 36.8 35
Hawaii 36.6 36
Louisiana 35.3 37
Maryland 35.2 38
Arkansas 35.1 39
District of Columbia 25.5 40

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