HEALTH STATUS >
Regular physical activity promotes health, psychological
well-being, and a healthy body weight. To reduce the risk of chronic
disease, the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend
at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity on
most days of the week for adults. To prevent weight gain over time,
the Guidelines recommend about 60 minutes of physical activity per
In 2003, women of all ages were less likely to report engaging in
regular physical activity than men. The largest differences were
observed among the youngest and oldest segments of the population.
At 18 to 24 years, 36.8 percent of women reported regular physical
activity, compared to 48.4 percent of men. Among those aged 75 and
older, 14.3 percent of women reported regular physical activity,
compared to 23.0 percent of men. With increased age, rates of self-reported
physical activity decreased among both men and women.
Physical activity in adolescence is important to health in adulthood.
Childhood obesity or other health issues related to lack of physical
activity may be a precursor for adverse health effects in adulthood,2
and physical activity during youth may be a habit that is carried
into adulthood. In 2003, 51.0 percent of female high school students
played on one or more sports teams; the rate was lower among 12th
graders than 11th graders and younger students. Among all high school
females, 52.8 percent were enrolled in physical education; however,
only 26.4 percent attended these classes daily.
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans,
2005. 6th edition, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office,
2 Boreham C, Riddoch C. The physical activity, fitness,
and health of children. Journal of Sports Sciences 2001 Dec;19(12):915-29.