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Why is overall physical activity important?

The grade of C- indicates that approximately half of children and youth are meeting
physical activity guidelines.

Overall Physical Activity                                                   C-

Definition:

The proportion of children and youth accumulating 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.

Overall physical activity refers to the proportion of children and youth meeting existing physical activity guidelines. To ascertain overall physical activity, a number of urban data sources and a large rural dataset were appraised.

Based on national survey data from 2003 to 2007, approximately 38% of children between the ages of 13 and 15 years (n = 6130) met the recommended physical activity levels. A study conducted in seven major urban centres in India (Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi and Surat) found that only 17% of children between the ages of 3 and 11 years (n = 1680) were meeting physical activity guidelines.

Other smaller studies assessed the accumulation of physical activity among boys and girls. In one study 

conducted among 8 to 15-year-old children (n = 307) in New Delhi, boys and girls accumulated, on average, 66 and 58.6 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day, respectively. Similarly, another study conducted in Bengaluru found that 7 to 11-year-olds (n= 300) accumulated 61.5 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day on average.

Several accelerometry studies have also been conducted including the International Study of Childhood Obesity, Lifestyle and the Environment (ISCOLE). All ISCOLE analyses were conducted with data from the same cohort of 9 to 11 year old children in Bengaluru with varying sample sizes i.e., Denstal et al. (2015) [n=546]; Sarmiento et al. (2015) [n=599]; Chaput et al. (2015) [n=433], Larouche et al. (2015) [n=600]. These studies demonstrate that children accumulate between 40 and 50 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day on average.

Apart from these peer-reviewed studies, rural baseline survey data from a large state-level longitudinal study was also appraised. These data showed that a major proportion of rural children (n=20,000) in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra participate in outdoor sports and active transportation. This evidence suggests that rural children are more likely to achieve physical activity recommendations.

After reviewing the urban and rural data sources, a grade of C- was assigned as it appears that approximately half of children and youth are meeting physical activity guidelines.

Habits and behaviours developed in childhood persist into adulthood, thus children and youth who are active are more likely to become active adults. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of numerous illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, colon and breast cancer, and depression. Physical activity can also help control weight, improve mood, and increase life expectancy.