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American Children Are Still Not Getting Enough Exercise, Study Finds

Update Date: Mar 08, 2013 01:21 PM EST

Although recent reports state that American teenagers and kids are consuming fewer calories, a new report reveals that these young adults are still not getting enough exercise into their daily routines. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the alarming numbers that continue to place stress on parents and government programs to find ways of increasing physical activities. The report found that less than 50 percent of boy and girls participate in rigorous activities in high school.

The government report found that only 29 percent of the high school students they surveyed had at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day within the week before the survey date. Within this percentage, 38 percent were boys and 19 percent were girls. 60 minutes a day is the government physical activity recommendation for teenagers and kids. Physical activity can include long walks, jogging, and more intensive exercises like participating in sports. Based from these statistics, more and more health experts recommend incorporating more physical activities during school hours.

"We have to use all the opportunities during the school day to increase kids' physical activity," Russell Pate, who was on the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, the committee that produced the report. Pate is a professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina.

The chair of the committee, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey added, "The evidence shows that being physically active can help kids get and stay fit and perform better at their schoolwork." Lavizzo-Mourey is the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Getting exercise into everyday routine is not as difficult as some people might think. The first place to start is in gym class. Physical education teachers can work with health and fitness experts in creating aerobic exercises that are stimulating for both the mind and the body. If the exercises are fun and creative, more kids might want to do them. Other recommendations by the council include adding activity breaks during class time, devising safe pathways for children to bike or walk to school, and increasing the amount of available afterschool activities.

If children grow up liking physical activity, the chances that they will keep it up is higher, which would promote a healthier adult lifestyle. 

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