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Majority of adolescents' physical activity obtained at school

Adolescent girls obtained less physical activity minutes per day than boys in all recorded locations except near school.

It is estimated that only 8% of United States youth achieve the recommended ≥60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) a day. Understanding locations and settings of youth physical activity may aid in public health interventions but previous studies have been limited by self-report methods. The current study was focused on understanding the importance of various locations where children engaged in physical activing by using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. Researchers found that the average participant did not meet the recommended guidelines for daily physical activity. Most activity was obtained at school but the large majority of school time was not spent in physical activity. Boys obtained significantly more exercise time in all locations except near home. Study findings may have been limited by unreliable GPS signaling, lack of specificity for ‘other’ locations, and socioeconomic disparities among participants. However, these results should influence providers to encourage their patients to spend less time at home and to other neighborhood and school situations which will foster physical activity.

Click to read the study, published in Pediatrics.

Study Author, Dr. Jordan A. Carlson, PhD, MA, talks to 2 Minute Medicine: Research Assistant Professor and Director of Community-Engaged Health Research at Children’s Mercy Hospital, University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“Schools, homes, neighborhoods, and other community-based settings (e.g., parks) all play an important role in kids’ physical activity. When working with a family, it is important to consider how activity-supportive the environment is in each of these locations, and tailor messages based on this information. If a child’s school does not have a PE teacher or does not provide at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity, families can be encouraged to seek physical activity opportunities at home and in the community. If neighborhood safety is a concern, families can be encouraged to find safe places for physical activity elsewhere in their community. Physicians can support community-based efforts by participating in Safe Routes to School and similar programs as education leaders and role models. Both physicians and parents can work with city officials and pedestrian advocacy groups to advocate for better neighborhood safety and pedestrian infrastructure. Physicians and parents can also work with school leaders to support schools to provide ample opportunities for physical activity and request more transparency and accountability around school-based physical activity.”

Read more via 2MinuteMedicine.com.