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Pie graph: CSHCN exercise status Pie graph: Non-CSHCN exercise status Bar graph: Exercise status by age and CSHCN status Bar graph: Exercise status by poverty status and CSHCN status

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Physical Activity

Physical activity is an important factor in developing and maintaining overall health, as well as lowering the risk for chronic diseases throughout the life course. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that children age 6-17 years participate in physical activity every day.1 This physical activity should be moderate to vigorous intensity, including aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening exercises.

In the NSCH, parents were asked on how many days in the past week their child exercised, played a sport, or participated in physical activity for at least 20 minutes that made the child sweat and breathe hard. Among CSHCN, 60.9 percent exercised four or more days in the past week, compared to 65.3 percent of non-CSHCN. Across states, the percentage of CSHCN who exercise four or more days in the past week ranges from 50.3 percent to 72.8 percent.

For both CSHCN and non-CSHCN, younger children were more likely to exercise than older children: among CSHCN age 6-11 years of age, 69.9 percent exercised four or more days, compared to 52.6 of CSHCN age 12-17 years.

Household income was a significant factor in rates of exercise among all children: among CSHCN with household incomes below the Federal poverty level (FPL), 54.1 percent of children exercised four or more days, compared to 64.8 percent of CSHCN with household incomes of 400 percent or more. Similar results were found in non-CSHCN: among non-CSHCN with household incomes below the Federal poverty level (FPL), 53.7 percent of children exercised four or more days, compared to 72.7 percent of non-CSHCN with household incomes of 400 percent or more of FPL.


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