The National Physical Activity Plan Alliance recently released its 2018 United States Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. The report card assesses levels of physical activity and sedentary behavior in American children and youth, as well as facilitators and barriers to physical activity, and health outcomes related to physical activity. This important advocacy tool is a call-to-action for decision-makers regarding how parents, teachers, health professionals, community leaders, and policy makers can work toward improving the physical activity levels and health of children and youth.
The third comprehensive assessment of U.S. children’s physical activity, this report updates the first Report Card in 2014 and the second in 2016. While the overall physical activity grade for children and youth remains low with an overall grade of D-, the 2018 report card reveals positive signs, especially regarding opportunities and infrastructure that support physical activity.
Promising highlights from the Report Card:
- Almost all school districts have policies requiring schools to meet the physical education needs of students with disabilities.
- Approximately 75% of 6 to 17-year-old children live in a neighborhood with sidewalks or walking paths.
- Approximately 77% of 6 to 17-year-old children live in a neighborhood with a park or playground area.
- More than 50% of children and high school students have played on a sports team in the past year.
- Approximately 65% of school districts have policies requiring elementary schools to provide regularly scheduled recess, while another 31% of districts recommend elementary schools do so.
- More than half of children aged 6 to 15 years have adequate muscular endurance.
- More than 70% of school districts have a policy that requires undergraduate or graduate training in PE or a related field for newly hired staff who teach PE in elementary, middle school and high school.
Another important outcome of the 2018 Report Card was the identification of critical gaps that exist in certain demographic groups. The evidence is clear that physical activity levels are not equal, but the report provides guidance for addressing these gaps.
- Gender: Approximately 35% of high-school boys but only 18% of high-school girls report participating in at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity.
- Age: Children aged 6-11 years participate in more daily physical activity (88 minutes) compared to adolescents aged 12-15 years (33 minutes) and 16-19 years (26 minutes).
- Ability: Children with mobility limitations may engage in less physical activity than those without limitations. 58% of boys aged 5-11 years with long-term mobility limitations met physical activity recommendations compared to 75% of boys without limitations.
- Place of residence: Children aged 6-11 years living in high-crime neighborhoods participate in less physical activity than those living in low-crime neighborhoods. Safe neighborhood park access was associated with more physical activity among adolescents 12-17 years old.
According to Bess Marcus, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Public Health and a board member of the National Physical Activity Plan, “there are some positive takeaways from the Report Card, such as school policies to meet the physical education needs of students with disabilities, but the low overall grades reflect that supporting increased physical activity is an urgent public health challenge. More must be done to ensure the health of future generations, and, in particular, to address racial, socioeconomic, and other disparities.”
2018 UNITED STATES REPORT CARD ON PHYSICAL ACTIVITY FOR CHILDREN & YOUTH
|Overall Physical Activity||D-|
|Organized Sport Participation||C|
|Community and Built Environment||C|
About the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance:
The National Physical Activity Plan Alliance is a coalition of national organizations joined together to insure the long term success of the National Physical Activity Plan. www.physicalactivityplan.org
The results are not good, but the latest report from the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance does reveal positive signs, especially regarding opportunities and infrastructure that support physical activity, and guidance for addressing gaps among demographic groups.