This paper reviews the descriptive epidemiology of physical activity in adolescents. Large population-based studies were reviewed, along with smaller studies using objective monitoring of physical activity. Estimates showed that adolescents engage in physical activity of any intensity for a mean of one hour per day. Approximately two thirds of males and one quarter of females participate in moderate to vigorous activity for 20 min 3 or more days per week. Activity levels decline with increasing age across adolescence, and this decrease is more marked in females than in males. Comparison of these data to physical activity guidelines for adolescents suggests the vast majority are meeting the guideline of accumulating physical activity. However, a substantial number of males, and the majority of females, are not meeting the guideline for moderate to vigorous physical activity.
Russell R. Pate is with the Dept. of Exercise Science, School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208. Barbara J. Long is with Project PACE at San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182. Greg Heath is with the Epidemiology Program Office, 1600 Clifton Rd., N.E., Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA 30333.