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February Blog Theme

February marks another milestone in the movement for a healthier generation - the 3rd year anniversary of the Let's Move! campaign. This month, Be Active Your Way bloggers will reflect on work that has been done to combat childhood obesity, as well as the road ahead.

To celebrate the Anniversary of Let's Move!, you'll hear from:

High School Students And Physical Activity

by CDC September 30, 2011

Written by Suzanne Hurley, CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

Many people are aware that too few U.S. high school students in grades 9-12 are getting enough physical activity. But do you know which groups of high school students are getting less physical activity than others?

The findings of a recent school-based study - the CDC 2010 National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study (NYPANS) - provide the answers. The results can be found in a June issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), but here are some highlights:

More high school male students than female students met the Healthy People 2020 aerobic and muscle strengthening activity objective:

  • 18.5% of male high school students
  • 5.8% of female high school students

Additionally, more students met the aerobic and muscle strengthening activity objective during their early high school years.

  • 15.0% of 9th graders
  • 12.3% of 10th graders
  • 10.7% of 11th graders
  • 10.3% of 12th-graders

Nationwide, only 15.3% met the aerobic objective of the Healthy People 2020 Physical Activity objectives, 51% met the muscle-strengthening objective, and 12.2% met the objective for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

Healthy People 2020 objectives measure recommended levels of youth physical activity and are based on the 2008 Physical Guidelines for Americans:

Youth aged 6 to 17 years need at least 1 hour of physical activity each day, and muscle strengthening activity at least 3 days a week.

To improve youth physical activity participation, efforts are needed among CDC, state and local public health agencies, schools, and other public health partners that promote physical activity.

Communities have an important role to play in supporting efforts to promote or create school-based quality physical education programs, and to create or enhance access to places for physical activity.

Listen to a Podcast on the importance of physical activity. Read more information on school guidelines and strategies.

How can you improve physical activity participation rates among all high school students?

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News & Reports | Schools

Do Physical Education Programs Hinder Academic Performance?

by AOSSM September 28, 2011

Written by David Geier MD, AOSSM Public Relations Chair

For a number of reasons, physical education programs in U.S. schools seem to be in a state of decline. In the current economic climate, government funding for education programs has decreased, so physical education programs have often been cut. Also, with schools needing to demonstrate success academically, teachers and administrators frequently worry about any activity that pulls students out of the classroom.

But do physical education classes really hinder a student's academic performance? It has been suggested that physically fit children are not only healthier, but they perform better on standardized academic tests.

A novel approach

Mitchell Elementary School, an underprivileged school in Charleston, South Carolina wanted to be proactive and find a way to maintain academic performance without sacrificing physical activity.Their school nurse, Glennis Randazzo, applied for grants that would fund education and equipment through the PE4Life program. The school partnered with physicians at the Medical University of South Carolina to study the success of the program. Dr. Carly Scahill, a pediatrics resident at MUSC and one of the study's lead authors, was also involved in the program. Prior to implementation of the new program, students underwent 40 minutes of physical education class per week. It increased to 40 minutes, five days per week under the new program, with the goal of combining physical activity and intellectual stimulation.

Stressing both physical and mental exercise

The younger children performed developmentally appropriate activities during the program, like riding scooters while being asked to trace shapes with their movement. Older children performed more active and intellectually challenging activities like practicing multiplication while climbing a rock wall. For example, if a student's left foot was on a "two" and left hand was on a "four," then he would reach his hand to number eight.

Academic results

Schools administer the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test each fall. Prior to the new physical exercise program, only 55% of students achieved their spring test goals. After a year in the program, 68.5% of students met their goals.

Next steps

Increased time for physical activity doesn't have to mean less time to learn; it's just learning in a new format. So what is next? Do we wait and hope that more schools try it? Dr. Scahill wants to expand the scope of the study, matching two schools based on demographics and academic performance and seeing if a school that utilizes the program would outscore the ones that did not. More longitudinal data would also be helpful to determine if these programs apply to students at all levels.

What are your thoughts on the program? Can PE help improve test scores?

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Creative programming | Schools

Spanish Physical Activity Guidelines Resources Now Available!

by ODPHP September 22, 2011

• Be Active Your Way: A Guide for Adults encourages individuals to get the amount of physical activity they need, based on the Guidelines and their own goals.

 Be Active Your Way Fact Sheet for Adults is a quick overview of the types and amount of physical activity recommended in the Guidelines. 

Both provide simple, adaptable strategies and tools for individuals to incorporate regular physical activity into an overall healthy lifestyle. 

You can download both from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans website.

Stay tuned for more Spanish resources – will be coming out in Spanish in October!



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