Physical activity plays a key role in
health by helping children to maintain
an appropriate energy balance, which
in turn helps to regulate weight.
Physical activity also reduces the risk
for certain cancers, diabetes, and
high blood pressure, and contributes
to healthy bones and muscles.1
According to parent reports, 71.3
percent of children aged 10-17
exercise on three or more days per
week. Children in rural areas are
more likely than children in urban
areas to participate in regular physical
activity. Among children in urban
areas, 70.4 percent exercise regularly,
compared to 73.9 percent of children
in large rural areas and 75.3 percent
of children in small rural areas.
*Federal Poverty Level, equal to $18,400 for a family of four in 2003.
Boys, younger children, and
children with higher family incomes
are most likely to exercise. Regular
physical activity is more common
among children in rural areas than
urban areas across all sex, age, and
family income groups. Among boys,
rates of physical activity in urban,
large rural, and small rural areas are
76.3, 77.6, and 79.6 percent, respectively;
rates among girls in these
areas of residence are 64.3, 70.3,
and 70.5 percent. Patterns are similar
for all three age groups, with children
aged 10-11 years living in small
rural areas being especially likely
to exercise on 3 or more days per
week (82.4 percent).
Children from all family income
levels are more likely to exercise in
rural areas, but one of the largest
disparities between urban and rural
areas occurs among children with
family incomes below the Federal
poverty level (FPL): rates among
those children are 62.1 percent in
urban areas, compared to 74.5 percent
in large rural areas and 75.1 percent
in small rural areas. Children with
family incomes of 400 percent of FPL
and above and living in large rural
and small rural areas are particularly
likely to exercise (78.4 and 78.8
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National
Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health
Promotion, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity.
Overweight and obesity: contributing factors.
Atlanta, GA: The Centers; 2005 Apr.