In contrast with the very small proportion of adults who participate in organized sports, a large number of high school students play on organized sports team during the course of a year (24,47) (Table 5). Nearly half (49.5%) of students play on school teams and 38.3% play on teams outside of school. Unlike for PE, there is minimal decline in participation on sports teams between grades 9 and 12 (53.2% to 45.5%). Organized sports teams appear to be an unrealized public health opportunity for maintaining and promoting physical activity for young people.
All of the conclusions which follow are based on large national surveys that have been adjusted to be representative of the overall U.S. population. They are observational studies and fall into Evidence Category C.
• 29% report no physical activity during leisure time.
• 28% engage regularly in recommended levels of physical activity.
• Physical inactivity increases with age for both men and women.
• Gender differences in physical activity are small in adults.
• Higher levels of education and income and white race are associated with greater participation in physical activity.
• Obese persons (BMI ≥ 30) report more inactivity and less regular physical activity than overweight (BMI 25–29.9) and normal weight (BMI <25) persons.
• Participation in regular leisure-time physical activity has been stable during the past decade. Trends in overall physical activity cannot be assessed with currently available data.
• Approximately 60% of adolescents participate in regular vigorous physical activity. This level is much higher than for adults.
• Boys report participating in vigorous physical activity substantially more than girls. Other differences by race-ethnicity and socioeconomic factors are similar to those seen in adults.
• Vigorous physical activity declines progressively and significantly with advancing age and grade.
• Enrollment and daily participation in physical education have declined since 1991
• National survey data is inadequate to assess trends in physical activity and fitness among children and adolescents.
• Improve the assessment of moderate intensity and lifestyle physical activity.
• Improve the assessment of occupational, housework, and transportation related physical activity in population-based surveys.
• Develop reliable and valid measures of sedentary behaviors that can be used on population-based surveys.
• Investigate the role of activity monitoring as a component of national population-based surveys of physical activity.
• Routinely monitor physical activity among children less than 12 yr of age and periodically assess fitness among children and adolescents.
• Improve physical activity survey methodology, reliability, and validity for children
• Standardize questions, sampling, definitions, and analysis to facilitate comparisons of physical activity behaviors between countries, surveys, and over time.
• Carry out longitudinal studies to examine changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviors during the critical transitions from childhood to adolescence and from adolescence to young adulthood.
• Improve our understanding of age and gender related differences in participating in physical activity throughout life.
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