Student Well-Being

‘Let’s Move?’ Most Teens Say ‘No Thanks’

By Bryan Toporek — January 08, 2014 1 min read

Just one in four teenagers between the ages of 12 and 15 engaged in the recommended 60 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in 2012, according to new data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which first lady Michelle Obama adopted for her “Let’s Move!” program, recommend that children and adolescents engage in some combination of aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening physical activity for at least one hour per day.

As part of its 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and 2012 NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey, the CDC gathered self-reported data from children and adolescents about their daily physical activity levels. The data released today focuses exclusively on 774 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 15, as the survey assessed physical activity differently for younger children.

According to the teens’ self-reported data, only 24.8 percent engaged in at least 60 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), either in or out of school. Only 7.6 percent did not engage in at least 60 minutes of daily MVPA on any day of the week.

Here’s a day-by-day breakdown of the percentage of boys and girls who engaged in MVPA:

“It’s definitely very concerning to see that our kids are engaging in such a limited amount of physical activity each day when we are still battling” an obesity epidemic, said Dr. Stephen Pont, the chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ section on obesity, to the Associated Press.

Outside of school and physical education classes, the three most common activities reported by boys were basketball (48 percent), running (33.5 percent), and football (27.4 percent). Among girls, the three most common out-of-school activities were running (34.9 percent), walking (27.6 percent), and basketball (21.4 percent).

Obese boys were significantly less likely to engage in the recommended 60 minutes of daily MVPA compared to overweight and normal-weight boys, per the CDC. Only 18 percent of obese boys did so, while 29.5 percent of normal-weight and overweight boys did. Among girls, the differences were not deemed statistically significant, as 24.1 percent of normal-weight, 20.1 percent of overweight, and 19.6 percent of obese females engaged in at least 60 minutes of daily MVPA.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.