Researchers found that only 15% of high school students between grades 9-12 were able to complete the aerobic objectives from the CDC, based upon results collected by the National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study. Student populations included all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia.
Data from 9,701 students determined that more males were able to meet objectives than females (21.9% and 8.4% respectively). The study was not able to include students who dropped out of high school.
The high school students who need to increase their exercise the most? Female high school students, upper grade levels, and youths who are obese. One of the biggest barriers that stands in the way for students is their reluctance to participate. They reported their reluctance was largely due to low confidence in their own physical abilities.
There also is a lack of awareness of the benefits of physical activity, and a lack of family support, as well as peer support to lead healthy, active lifestyles. Lack of choices in physical education activities, as well as inadequate community facilities or resources for high schoolers to play sports, are also to blame for the lack of exercise in high school students.
Solutions for Inactive Students
The First Lady Michelle Obama has proposed the “Let’s Move!” campaign to get kids moving again. Others have proposed that PE classes be longer, so that students have time to shower and clean up after a round in the gym. On the state level, creation and promotion of recreational locations, as well as information outreach programs about these new locations are recommended as well.
“The biggest motivating factor for students to exercise is to find one they enjoy,” says Dr. Caroline Cederquist, Medical Director of Cederquist Medical Wellness Center in Naples, FL. “Roller skating, skateboarding, dancing, swimming, and bike riding are fun activities that don’t feel much like exercise, but the health benefits are huge for young adults in high school.”
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