ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report Released Today

In an effort to increase physical activity levels of all American youth, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today released the report, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report: Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth (PDF), as a five-year follow-up to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

The report identifies interventions that can help increase physical activity in youth in a variety of settings. It outlines evidence-based recommendations for focusing more efforts on five key settings: schools, preschools and childcare centers, community, family and home, and primary care locations.

The trend continues toward decreased physical activity among youth, which increases the risk of several chronic diseases in children 6–17 years of age. The 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that youth are still not getting the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Research also shows that only 29 percent of high school students are physically active for 60 minutes or more a day during a seven-day period, while 14 percent are not participating in any type of physical activity on any day during a seven-day period.

As the report notes, schools offer a practical opportunity to increase physical activity among youth. More than 95 percent of youth are enrolled in schools, and a typical school day lasts approximately six to seven hours, making schools an ideal setting to provide physical activity to students. In addition, more than 4.2 million young children (about 60 percent of children ages 3 to 5 who are not attending kindergarten) are enrolled in early care and education settings in the United States; the evidence suggests that well-designed interventions can increase physical activity among these children.

"There are so many moments throughout the school day—from quality PE to recess to classroom activity breaks—where children can have the opportunity to be active. This not only helps keep them physically fit, but evidence also shows that it helps them perform better in the classroom, as well."

—Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, Midcourse Report subcommittee chair, President's Council member, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

"This important new report from the Department of Health and Human Services provides powerful support for the elements of the National Physical Activity Plan that emphasize the critical role that our schools can and should play in providing children with the physical activity they need to be healthy and fit."

—Russell Pate, PhD, President, National Physical Activity Plan Alliance

For more information about the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report, visit The report was completed by a subcommittee of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.

Since its beginning in 1943, ASCD has been a strong voice in the debate about educational issues that affect learning and teaching. As a nonpartisan education association, ASCD continues to advocate for policies and practices that ensure each child has access to educational excellence and equity.

Successful learners are not only knowledgeable and productive but also emotionally and physically healthy, motivated, civically engaged, prepared for work and economic self-sufficiency, and ready for the world beyond their own borders. Because emotional and physical health are critical to the development of the whole child, ASCD believes that health should be fully embedded into the educational environment for all students.

Health and learning

  • Is a multifaceted concept that includes the intellectual, physical, civic, and mental health of students.
  • Provides coordinated and comprehensive health efforts that give students and staff effective teacher, school, family, community, and policy resources.
  • Supports the development of a child who is healthy, knowledgeable, motivated, engaged, and connected.
  • Is the reciprocal responsibility of communities, families, schools, teachers, and policymakers.

ASCD is the global leader in developing and delivering innovative programs, products, and services that empower educators to support the success of each learner. The association provides expert and innovative solutions in professional development, capacity building, and educational leadership essential to the way educators learn, teach, and lead.

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