Report: Less than one quarter of U.S. children meet physical activity guidelines; ACE® offers new solutions

Posted: Nov 16, 2016 in ACE Press Releases

San Diego, CA – More than three quarters of children in the United States are currently not meeting physical activity recommendations, putting them at an increased risk for obesity, diabetes and related chronic illnesses, according to a report issued today. The 2016 United States Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth was authored by researchers and health experts from organizations across the country that were assembled by the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance.

The report shows only 21.6 percent of children ages 6-19 meet U.S. physical activity guidelines. Further, nearly 63 percent of children are getting more than the two hours of screen time per day which exceeds current recommended guidelines. Less than 13 percent of children walk or ride their bike to school, habits that have been associated with lower odds of obesity among children.

“Improving the results of the nation’s Report Card on physical activity for children and youth will require a multi-pronged, multi-sectoral approach to create a culture that supports and encourages positive movement experiences for children,” said Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer for American Council on Exercise. “ACE is proud to sponsor the Report Card and is committed to promoting the three core values of physical literacy for youth: ability, confidence and a desire to be physically active for life.”

The World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommend that children and youth engage in a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily, including vigorous-intensity activity at least three days per week.

Four key recommendations to increase physical activity among youth were included in the report:

  • Schools should increase physical activity opportunities for students and should be a key part of a national strategy to increase physical activity.
  • Preschool and childcare centers should enhance their physical activity programs and practices.
  • Research gaps on how to advance efforts for increased youth physical activity need to be addressed and modified
  • Changes involving the built environment (such as safe outdoor and indoor recreation spaces) and similar sectors are promising, but need additional work.

ACE’s commitment to youth fitness is deeply integrated within the organization, including these initiatives that can help address the recommendations of the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance:

  • Youth Fitness Specialist Program: ACE offers a Youth Fitness Specialist Program to help parents, youth sports coaches and other professionals in fitness, health care, recreation or education gain the knowledge and skills they need to create customized and organized fitness programs for children and teens.  
  • Operation FitKids: A free physical activity curriculum for children in grades 3 through 8 was designed to help educators integrate health and fitness into classroom learning.
  • ACEFit youth fitness resources: This library of healthy living articles is designed to empower parents, schools, health and fitness professionals, community leaders, and the kids themselves incorporate physical activity and good nutrition into everyday life.
  • Youth fitness research: As part of our mission to protect the public and keep our health and fitness professionals informed on the latest science, ACE regularly commissions independent research from universities and trusted partners nationwide on a range of topics, including youth fitness.
  • Ash Hayes Scholarship: This scholarship for the materials needed to become an ACE certified personal trainer is awarded to applicants who demonstrated a clear commitment to providing physical activity opportunities and health education to children and teenagers in schools, healthcare, recreation or community programs, fitness or a similar setting.

The 2016 United States Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth was released today in conjunction with 37 other countries at the 2016 International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health in Bangkok, Thailand. This is the second comprehensive assessment of physical activity in U.S. children and youth, updating the first Report Card released in 2014. The Report Card can be downloaded from the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance website ( Further information about the international release of the Report Card can be obtained from the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance website ( ). The Report Card is produced by the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance’s (NPAP) U.S. Report Card Research Advisory Committee. Find more information about the Plan at

About ACE

With a mission to get people moving, the nonprofit organization American Council on Exercise (ACE) educates, certifies and represents more than 65,000 currently certified fitness professionals, health coaches and other allied health professionals. ACE advocates for a new intersection of fitness and healthcare, bringing the highly qualified professionals ACE represents into the healthcare continuum so they can contribute to the national solution to physical inactivity and obesity. ACE is the largest certifier in its space and all four of its primary certification programs are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the gold standard in the United States for accreditation of certifications that assess professional competence. ACE also plays an important public-service role, conducting and providing science-based research and resources on safe and effective physical activity and sustainable behavior change. For more information, call 800-825-3636 or visit AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE, ACE and ACE logos are Registered Trademarks of the American Council on Exercise.

About the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance

 The NPAPA is a not-for-profit 501-c3 organization committed to ensuring the long-term success of the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP). A coalition of national organizations and at-large experts on physical activity and public health, they have come together to ensure that efforts to provide physical activity in the American population will be guided by a comprehensive, evidence-based strategic plan. For more information, see

About the Pennington Biomedical Research Center

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. It is a campus of Louisiana State University and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 44 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and support personnel, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Pennington Biomedical’s more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 222-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more information, see

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