Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence improves strength and endurance, helps build healthy bones and muscles, helps control weight, reduces anxiety and stress, increases self-esteem, and may improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that young people aged 6–17 years participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
In 2013, 27.1% of high school students surveyed had participated in at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity on all 7 days before the survey, and only 29% attended physical education class daily.
Schools can promote physical activity through comprehensive school physical activity programs, including recess, classroom-based physical activity, intramural physical activity clubs, interscholastic sports, and physical education.
Schools should ensure that physical education is provided to all students in all grades and is taught by qualified teachers.
Schools can also work with community organizations to provide out-of-school-time physical activity programs and share physical activity facilities.
Benefits of Regular Physical Activity Regular physical activity—
Helps build and maintain healthy bones and muscles.
Helps reduce the risk of developing obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colon cancer.
Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and promotes psychological well-being.
May help improve students’ academic performance, including
Academic achievement and grades
Academic behavior, such as time on task
Factors that influence academic achievement, such as concentration and attentiveness in the classroom.
Long-Term Consequences of Physical Inactivity
Overweight and obesity, which are influenced by physical inactivity and poor diet, can increase one’s risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, arthritis, and poor health status.
Physical inactivity increases one’s risk for dying prematurely, dying of heart disease, and developing diabetes, colon cancer, and high blood pressure.