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75% of Teens aren't Getting Recommended Daily Exercise


Three out of every four teens aren’t getting enough exercise, and this lack is even more pronounced among female students. But, new research from the University of Georgia suggests, improving a school’s climate can increase physical activity among adolescents. School environments play a critical role in helping children develop healthy behaviors, like creating healthy eating habits, said lead study author Janani R. Thapa. And the same goes for physical activity.

Janani Thapa (Submitted photo)

By conducting a statewide survey, that included questions about physical activity levels and school climate, Thapa and her co-authors were able to test that relationship. The data included eight characteristics of climate: school connectedness, peer social support, adult social support, cultural acceptance, physical environment, school safety, peer victimization (bullying) and school support environment.

Overall, female students reported less physical activity than their male counterparts, only 35% were active compared to 57% of males. And physical activity declined steadily from ninth grade to 12th grade for both genders. One thing that stood out was the influence of bullying. Female students who reported being bullied were more likely to be physically active, while male students who reported being bullied were less likely to be physically active.

These findings suggest that K-12 schools that want to promote participation in physical activity should consider how to improve students’ sense of safety at school and bolster peer and adult support of exercise.

Co-authors include Justin Ingels, Kiran Thapa and Kathryn Chiang with UGA’s College of Public Health and Isha Metzger with UGA’s Department of Psychology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

The study, “School climate-related determinants of physical activity among high school girls and boys,” published in the Journal of Adolescence.