Only 31 percent of U.S. adults report that they engage in regular leisure-time physical activity (defined as either three sessions per week of vigorous physical activity lasting 20 minutes or more, or five sessions per week of light-to-moderate physical activity lasting 30 minutes or more). About 40 percent of adults report no leisure-time physical activity.
About 35 percent of high school students report that they participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on 5 or more days of the week, and only 30 percent of students report that they attend physical education class daily. As children get older, participation in regular physical activity decreases dramatically.
In contrast to reported activity, when physical activity is measured by a device that detects movement, only about 3–5 percent of adults obtain 30 minutes of moderate or greater intensity physical activity on at least 5 days per week. Among youth, measured activity provides information on younger children than is available with reports and highlights the decline in activity from childhood to adolescence. For example, 42 percent of children age 6–11 obtain the recommended 60 minutes per day of physical activity, whereas only 8 percent of adolescents achieve this goal.
What are the benefits of physical activity?
Research suggests that physical activity may reduce the risk of many adverse health conditions, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and depression. In addition, physical activity can help reduce risk factors for conditions such as high blood pressure and blood cholesterol. Researchers believe that some physical activity is better than none, and additional health benefits can be gained by increasing the frequency, intensity, and duration of physical activity.