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Physical Activity

Narrative

Data from the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System showed that 18.4 percent of high school students were physically active for at least 60 minutes on each of the 7 previous days. This is consistent with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' recommendation that children and adolescents get one hour or more of physical activity every day, most of which should be moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

Overall, 23.1 percent of students did not participate in 60 or more minutes of physical activity on any day in the preceding week. The rate was higher for females than males (29.9 versus 17.0 percent) and for non-Hispanic Black and Asian children (32.1 and 31.1 percent, respectively) than non-Hispanic Whites (20.3 percent).

Participation in recommended levels of physical activity varied by sex and grade level. Among high school students in all grades, a smaller proportion of females reported 60 minutes of physical activity on each of the previous seven days than males. Among 9th graders, 13.6 percent of females met recommended levels of physical activity compared to 28.0 percent of their male counterparts. By 12th grade, only 8.6 percent of females met the recommended levels compared to 21.9 percent of males in the same grade.

Nationwide, 56.4 percent of high school students attended physical education (PE) classes at least one day per week in 2009. The rate drops dramatically with increasing grade: 72.4 percent of 9th grade students attended PE class, compared to 43.8 percent of 12th grade students. Overall, only 33.3 percent of students attended daily PE classes in 2009.

In 2009, 58.3 percent of high school students reported playing on at least one sports team in the past year. This was more common among younger children than older children (61.6 percent of 9th graders compared to 51.1 percent of 12th graders). Sex differences were also observed in sports participation. Overall, just over half of high-school females reported playing on at least one sports team in the past year, compared to 63.8 percent of high school males. These differences increased with age: while 56.6 percent of 9th grade females reported sports participation in 2009, only 44.1 percent of 12th grade females did so. Among males, the rates of past-year sports team participation declined from 65.9 percent among 9th graders to 57.9 percent among 12th graders.

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

high school student physical activity graph

Data

Physical Activity* Among High School Students, by Grade Level and Sex, 2009
Grade level Percent of Students
Total Male Female
*Met recommended levels of physical activity, which is one hour or more of physical activity every day, most of which should be moderate-to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1991-2009 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed July 2011.
Total 18.4 24.8 11.4
9th Grade 21.3 28.0 13.6
10th Grade 19.3 25.3 12.7
11th Grade 17.0 23.3 10.3
12th Grade 15.3 21.9 8.6

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