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Increase Physical Activity Opportunities

Being physically active is just as important to health as eating right. Children need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous active play every day to grow up to a healthy weight. If this sounds like a lot, consider that 8–to 18–year-olds devote an average of 7.5 hours watching TV and movies, using computers and cell phones, and playing cell phones. Only one-third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity.

To increase physical activity, children need physical education, safe routes to walk and ride their bikes to school, parks and access to playgrounds and community centers. Children need access to sports leagues and dance or fitness programs that are exciting and challenging to keep them engaged. Let’s Move! to increase opportunities for kids to be physically active, both in school and in communities and to create new opportunities for families to be physically active together.

In addition to being fun, regular physical activity strengthens bones and muscles, increases self-esteem, and provides many other health benefits. Physical activity, along with eating healthy foods, can help children live healthier lives and perform better in school.

Cities and towns can help our children get the physical activity they need in many ways. Here are some ideas:

  • Earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award and encourage other groups and organizations to earn one as well.
  • Break down barriers to children’s physical activity through innovative joint-use agreements.
  • Promote safe routes to school.
  • Establish a local fitness challenge that sets goals for physical activity.
  • Encourage daily, high-quality physical education for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. The goal should be 150 minutes per week for elementary schools and 225 minutes per week for secondary schools.
  • Build physical activity into classroom lessons.
  • Increase options for affordable transportation to parks and open spaces by discounting public transit, altering or expanding school bus routes, and incentivizing ride sharing.
  • Incorporate physical activity into the planning and design of every physical improvement to the city — from municipal buildings and new parks to streets and sidewalks.
  • Incorporate pedestrian and bicycle lanes into street development.
  • Enhance public safety near parks and other public spaces.
  • Develop a “park deserts map” that indicates the distance from population centers to parks and green spaces.
  • Offer physically active intramural sports for students of all skill levels and make sure that it is free and affordable for all children.