Physical Activity

Results from the 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System show that 35.8 percent of high school students met the currently recommended levels of physical activity and 68.7 percent of students met the previously recommended standard for physical activity in the previous week. Current physical activity standards for this age group recommend 60 minutes of physical activity five days per week; previous standards recommended at least 20 minutes of vigorous activity or 30 minutes of moderate activity five days per week. Only 9.6 percent of students did not engage in any vigorous or moderate physical activity.

Nationwide, 54.2 percent of high school students were enrolled in a physical education class on one or more days a week, although the percentage is far higher in the younger grades (71.5 percent of 9th-graders) than in the older grades (38.8 percent of 12th-graders). The percentage of students attending daily physical education classes has dropped from 42 percent in 1991 to 33.0 percent in 2005. Among those students who attended physical education classes, 84.0 percent reported exercising or playing sports for more than 20 minutes during an average class.

In 2005, a total of 56.0 percent of high school students reported playing on one or more sports teams in the past year. This was also more common among children in younger grades (60.4 percent of 9th-graders) than in the older grades (49.2 percent of 12th-graders). High school students also reported sedentary activities, such as using a computer or watching television. More than one-fifth (21.1 percent) 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 37.2 percent of students reported watching television for 3 or more hours on an average school day.

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

Physical Activity Among High School Students, by Race/Ethnicity, 2005 [D]

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