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April 2019: Get Active for National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Hosted annually in May by the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition (PCSFN), National Physical Fitness and Sports Month encourages everyone to out and get active. The recently updated Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adolescents get 60 minutes of exercise each day. Unfortunately, many adolescents do not exercise the recommended amount. In fact, only one in five adolescents in the United States meet these activity levels.

Why is Physical Activity Important?

Regular physical activity can produce a wide range of health benefits for developing adolescents. It can help control weight, strengthen muscles, reduce fat, and promote strong bone, muscle, and joint development. Exercising can help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, physical activity can improve sleep, reduce stress, and increase self-esteem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical activity also benefits adolescents’ brain health. Exercising can improve cognition, including academic performance and memory.

How to Encourage Physical Activity

There are many ways to get active during National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! PCSFN has a list of activities that can help get teens active. It is important that adolescents participate in aerobic activities that elevate their heart rate.

  • Education professionals can use open spaces to promote physical activity. In addition to physical education classes, school staff can use gyms and outdoor spaces such as fields, tracks, and paved areas to encourage physical activity during breaks, lunchtime, and before or after school.
  • Out-of-school time and community program leaders can plan group activities that include physical exercise (like hikes, bike rides, and competitive sports) and non-competitive play (like aerobic/cardio fitness activities, as well as muscle and bone-strengthening activities).
  • Faith-based leaders can offer activities that have a physical exercise component, like hosting fitness classes, sponsoring hikes, or creating a community garden.
  • Parents and caring adults can model physical activity and encourage teens to be and stay active with at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

The Office of Adolescent Health’s Adolescent Health Library provides important resources for parents, caring adults, and youth-serving professionals on adolescent physical health and nutrition.

Spread the Word with These Posts

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! Celebrate by ensuring the adolescents in your lives get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/npfsm/index.html @TeenHealthGov

Only 1 in 5 adolescents in the United States get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise each day. Learn ways to help teens get active. https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/npfsm/index.html @TeenHealthGov

There are so many ways parents and caring adults can model physical activity for their adolescent. You can go on walks, ride bikes, or just toss around a ball. https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-development/explained/physical/support/index.html @TeenHealthGov

Content created by Office of Adolescent Health
Content last reviewed on June 17, 2019