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MinKyoung Song, Dianna D. Carroll, Sarah M. Lee and Janet E. Fulton


The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines recommend youth participate in a variety of physical activities; however, few nationally representative studies describe the types and variety of youth activity. This study assessed the most frequently reported types and variety of activities among U.S. high school students, and examined the association between variety and meeting the 2008 Guidelines for aerobic activity (aerobic guideline).


We analyzed data on 8628 U.S. high school students in grades 9–12 from the 2010 National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey. Types of physical activity were assessed by identifying which activities each student reported in the past 7 days. Variety was assessed by the total number of different activities each student reported. Percentage (95% CI) of students who reported engaging in each activity was assessed. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between variety and meeting the aerobic guideline.


Walking was the most frequently reported activity among U.S. high school students. On average, students reported participating in 6 different activities. Variety was positively associated with meeting the aerobic guideline.


These findings support encouraging youth to participate in many physical activities and may be useful for developing interventions that focus on the most prevalent activities.