U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Physical Activity

Results from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System show that 34.7 percent of high school students met currently recommended levels of physical activity in 2007. At that time, the recommendation for this age group was any kind of physical activity that increases heart rate and causes the child to breathe hard for some of the time for a total of at least 60 minutes per day, 5 or more days per week. Non-Hispanic White students were the most likely to meet the recommended levels of physical activity (37.0 percent), followed by non-Hispanic Black students (31.1 percent); Hispanic students were least likely to meet recommended levels (30.2 percent). Overall, 24.9 percent of students did not participate in 60 or more minutes of physical activity on any day in the week before the survey.

Nationwide, 53.6 percent of high school students attended physical education classes on 1 or more days a week in 2007. This rate drops dramatically with increasing grade: 66.8 percent of 9th grade students attended PE class, compared to 41.5 percent of 12th grade students. The percentage of students attending daily physical education classes has dropped from 42 percent in 1991 to 30.3 percent in 2007. Again, younger students were much more likely to attend daily classes than older students (40.1 percent of 9th graders compared to 23.8 percent of 12th graders; data not shown).

In 2007, 56.3 percent of high school students reported playing on at least one sports team in the past year. This was also more common among children in younger grades (59.2 percent of 9th graders) than in the older grades (49.0 percent of 12th graders; data not shown). High school students were also asked about sedentary activities, such as using a computer or watching television. One-quarter of students reported using a computer for something other than school work for 3 or more hours per day on an average school day, while 35.4 percent of students reported watching television for 3 or more hours on an average school day.

The HealthierUS Initiative—available online at http://www.healthierus.gov—provides accurate information about physical fitness, nutrition, and disease prevention to help Americans of all ages make healthy decisions.

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