Feature Article - June 2010
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A Look at Trends in Schools and School Districts

Getting Active

The prevalence of schools respondents who plan to add fitness centers, as well as the dominance of fitness programs among the planned program additions, suggest that these professionals place a high priority on activity for their students. And, in fact, 32.6 percent of schools respondents said that youth fitness and wellness was one of their top concerns.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The State Indicator Report on Physical Activity 2010, highlighted the ways physical features and policies can either make it easier or harder to be physically active. Among other things, the report looks at community access to parks or playgrounds, community centers, and sidewalks or walking paths.

The report notes that only 17 percent of the nation's high school students say they get at least an hour of physical activity each day, the minimum recommended for this age group.

The report also found that schools and childcare centers cannot be counted on as a place where young people get the activity they need during the week. Only eight states require children to be engaged in moderate or vigorous physical activity in licensed, regulated childcare centers, and only 20 states require or recommend scheduled recess for elementary students, while 37 states require elementary, middle and high schools to teach physical education.

The report shows that "…too many kids are spending too much time in front of a computer or a TV or a videogame or have limited access to physical activity because they live in neighborhoods that aren't safe, go to schools where P.E. classes have been cut or live in communities where there are no sports leagues or afterschool activity programs," said First Lady Michelle Obama, who has been championing efforts to reduce child obesity. "We need parents and teachers, business and community leaders and the public and private sectors to come together to create more opportunities for our kids to be active so they can lead happy healthy lives."

"The places where we live, work, learn and play affect the choices we make, and in turn, our health," said William Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., director of CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. "As chronic diseases place an increasing burden on the nation's health care system, the need for improving policies and environments for physical activity is more important than ever. This report can help states, communities and others work together to increase the number of Americans who live healthier lives by creating communities that support and encourage physical activity."

To learn more and read the report, visit www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/professionals/reports/index.html.