A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report: Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth, highlights promising interventions to help children and teens be active for 60 minutes or more each day.
The report summarizes the best available evidence about ways to increase physical activity in five settings: schools, communities, preschool and childcare centers, homes, and primary health care. Key takeaways and recommendations include:
- Schools serve as an excellent venue for promoting regular physical activity, but more efforts are needed to help children to be active before, during, and after the school day. Experts call for a variety of programs to help kids be more active at school, including quality physical education classes, classroom activity breaks, activity sessions before and/or after school, and active commuting to school.
- Collaboration among transportation, urban planning, public safety, and other sectors is critical for creating safe places for children to walk, bike, and play. There are several promising strategies for promoting walking, bicycling, and regular play in communities, such as making parks and recreational facilities more available and accessible to families; improving walking and biking facilities; and decreasing traffic volume and speed in neighborhoods.
- Early childcare and education centers offer great promise for increasing physical activity among younger children. Recommended interventions for preschools and childcare centers include increasing outside play time; providing tricycles, balls, and other play equipment; and training staff to lead structured physical activity sessions and to integrate physical activity into the curriculum.
The purpose of the report is to help inform current practices related to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which provide information about the type and amount of physical activity needed to produce long-term health benefits. The guidelines recommend at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity for children and teens.
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She served as chair of the committee that developed the report.