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Tiffany J. Chen, Kathleen B. Watson, Shannon L. Michael, Jessica J. Minnaert, Janet E. Fulton, and Susan A. Carlson

Background: Healthy People 2030 includes objectives to increase meeting the aerobic physical activity guideline for ages 6–13 years (of ages 6–17 y, monitored by National Survey of Children’s Health [NSCH]) and grades 9 to 12 (mostly aged 14–18+ y, monitored by Youth Risk Behavior Survey [YRBS]). This study compares methodologies, prevalence, and patterns of meeting the guideline, particularly for overlapping ages 14–17 years. Methods: Nationally representative surveys, 2016–2017 NSCH (adult proxy report, 6–17 y) and 2015 and 2017 YRBS (self-report, grades 9–12), assess meeting the guideline of ≥60 minutes of daily moderate to vigorous physical activity. Prevalence and odds ratios were estimated by age group and demographics. Results: For youth aged 14–17 years, 17.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 16.1–18.7; NSCH) and 27.0% (95% CI, 25.6–28.5; YRBS) met the guideline. 25.9% (95% CI, 24.8–27.2) aged 6–13 years (NSCH) and 26.6% (95% CI, 25.3–28.0) in grades 9 to 12 (YRBS) met the guideline. Across surveys, fewer females (P < .001) and Asian youth (P < .001 except among NSCH 14–17 y) met the guideline. Conclusions: Neither methodology nor estimates for meeting the aerobic guideline are similar across surveys, so age continuity between juxtaposed estimates should not be assumed by magnitude nor age for separate Healthy People 2030 youth physical activity objectives.

Open access

Geoffrey P. Whitfield, Eric T. Hyde, and Susan A. Carlson

Background: Adults should perform ≥150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity equivalent physical activity for substantial health benefits and >300 minutes per week for additional benefits. The authors analyzed 21 years of National Health Interview Survey data to better understand trends in aerobic physical activity participation among US adults. Methods: The authors estimated the annual prevalence (1998–2018) of self-reported leisure-time physical inactivity, insufficient activity, meeting only the minimal aerobic guideline, and meeting the high aerobic guideline overall and by selected characteristics. Prevalence differences between 1998 and 2018 were compared across subgroups and periods of significant change were identified using JoinPoint regression. Results: The prevalence of inactivity decreased from 40.5% (1998) to 25.6% (2018) while the prevalence of meeting the high aerobic guideline increased from 26.0% to 37.4%. Increases in meeting the high guideline were similar across age groups, racial/ethnic groups, levels of education, and Census regions. Increases in insufficient activity and meeting the minimal guideline were statistically significant but of relatively small magnitude. Conclusions: The prevalence of inactivity decreased and meeting the high aerobic guideline increased overall and for all subgroups from 1998 to 2018. Physical activity promotion strategies may aim to continue these trends while also narrowing persistent disparities in participation across subgroups.

Open access

Kathleen B. Watson, Geoffrey P. Whitfield, Stacey Bricka, and Susan A. Carlson

Background: New or enhanced activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations is an evidence-based approach for increasing physical activity. Although national estimates for some infrastructure features surrounding where one lives and the types of nearby destinations are available, less is known about the places where individuals walk. Methods: A total of 5 types of walking trips (N = 54,034) were defined by whether they began or ended at home (home based [HB]) and trip purpose (HB work, HB shopping, HB social/recreation, HB other, and not HB trip) (2017 National Household Travel Survey). Differences and trends by subgroups in the proportion of each purpose-oriented trip were tested using pairwise comparisons and polynomial contrasts. Results: About 14% of U.S. adults reported ≥1 walking trip on a given day. About 64% of trips were HB trips. There were few differences in prevalence for each purpose by subgroup. For example, prevalence of trips that were not HB decreased significantly with increasing age and increased with increasing education and household income. Conclusions: Given age-related and socioeconomic differences in walking trips by purpose, planners and other professionals may want to consider trip origin and destination purposes when prioritizing investments for the creation of activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations where people live, work, and play.

Open access

Tiffany J. Chen, Kathleen B. Watson, Shannon L. Michael, and Susan A. Carlson

Background: During the past decade, guidelines for youth aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity remained unchanged. Active People, Healthy NationSM highlighted school and youth strategies (eg, sports and physical education [PE]) to increase physical activity. Sex, grade, and race/ethnicity disparities exist. This study examines sex-specific trends and differences by grade and race/ethnicity for the prevalence of 5 youth physical activity behaviors from 2009 to 2019. Methods: The national Youth Risk Behavior Survey assesses adolescents (grades 9–12) meeting the aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and both guidelines (2011–2019) and sports participation and daily PE (2009–2019). Sex-stratified logistic regression assessed trends and 2009 or 2011–2019 differences by grade and racial/ethnic subgroups. Results: Decreases in meeting the aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and both guidelines were observed for nearly all male subgroups by grade and race/ethnicity, whereas female subgroups exhibited declines or no change to low prevalence. Sports and PE participation remained mostly constant; select subgroups showed decreases (ie, Hispanic males [sports]; Black males and ninth-grade females [PE]). Conclusions: Past decade prevalence and patterns suggest that school-based and other strategies for all adolescents and tailored interventions for sex-specific subgroups may be needed to supplement sports and PE in promoting high school youth physical activity.

Open access

John D. Omura, Geoffrey P. Whitfield, Tiffany J. Chen, Eric T. Hyde, Emily N. Ussery, Kathleen B. Watson, and Susan A. Carlson

Background: Surveillance is a core function of public health, and approaches to national surveillance of physical activity and sedentary behavior have evolved over the past 2 decades. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of surveillance of physical activity and sedentary behavior in the United States over the past 2 decades, along with related challenges and emerging opportunities. Methods: The authors reviewed key national surveillance systems for the assessment of physical activity and sedentary behavior among youth and adults in the United States between 2000 and 2019. Results: Over the past 20 years, 8 surveillance systems have assessed physical activity, and 5 of those have assessed sedentary behavior. Three of the 8 originated in nonpublic health agencies. Most systems have assessed physical activity and sedentary behavior via surveys. However, survey questions varied over time within and also across systems, resulting in a wide array of available data. Conclusion: The evolving nature of physical activity surveillance in the United States has resulted in both broad challenges (eg, balancing content with survey space; providing data at the national, state, and local level; adapting traditional physical activity measures and survey designs; and addressing variation across surveillance systems) and related opportunities.