Prevalence of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviors in US High School Students by Metropolitan Status and Geographic Region

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Geographic differences in the prevalence of physical activity (PA) have been found among adults in the US; similar studies have not been conducted among adolescents.


Using nationally representative cross-sectional data from the CDC’s 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, we estimated the prevalence of PA and sedentary behaviors by metropolitan status and geographic region.


The prevalence of PA was lowest and prevalence of sedentary behavior highest for urban students. Students from the South reported the lowest prevalence of PA and the highest prevalence of TV watching, while students from the West generally reported the highest PA prevalence and lowest sedentary behavior prevalence. Prevalence differences ranged from < 1.0% to > 15%, with most differences falling between 5% and 10%.


Findings mirror regional variations previously observed in adult PA. We need to understand factors that contribute to lower PA in youth living in the South and in urban settings.

Springer is with the Center for Health for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, School of Public Health, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX 77030. Hoelscher and Kelder are with the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living, University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston, Houston, TX 77030.

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