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YMCA Kids Top National Averages For Physical Activity Among Youth According To National YMCA Healthy Kids Day Poll


Kids Engaged with YMCAs Indicate High Enjoyment of Physically Active Play and Play More Often Than Average U.S. Child

A national poll conducted by YMCA of the USA targeting 6- to 12-year-old children engaged with YMCAs nationwide indicates that “Y kids” not only have very positive attitudes about physical activity, but also are more physically active than the average child in the United States.

Among YMCA kids surveyed, half (50 percent) said they exercise, dance or actively play six or seven days a week; another one-third (32 percent) are active four or five days a week. An encouraging 81 percent of kids said they like “very much” play that “helps me move my body.” Only 1 percent (10 of 920 kids) said they do “not at all” like physical play. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 77 percent of U.S. children are active at least one day a week.

“These survey results are encouraging,” said Neil Nicoll, president and CEO of YMCA of the USA. “With all of the negative statistics about kids, obesity and inactivity, we were really pleased to find that kids engaged with a YMCA have positive attitudes about physical activity and many are meeting or exceeding federal recommendations for exercise and active play.”

Experts agree that school-age children need to be moderately to vigorously active for a minimum of 60 minutes a day to be healthy (Journal of Pediatrics, CDC and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). While half (49 percent) of YMCA kids said they spend an hour or more each day engaged in physically active play, just over one-third of our nation’s children appear to be reaching this goal. Alarmingly, more than 9 million children in the United States are either obese or overweight, and study after study shows today’s children are not getting the necessary exercise and activity for effective weight management and good health.

Today, hectic work and family schedules allow little time for kids to participate in physical activity. Schools struggling to improve academic achievement are dropping physical education and physical activity and assigning more homework, which leaves less time for sports and other forms of physical activity. YMCA of the USA believes it is important that parents strike a good balance between school time and playful, recreational activities for their children.

“As the nation’s leading not-for-profit provider of child care, afterschool and youth sports programs, helping kids develop healthy attitudes, exhibit healthy behaviors and make healthy choices is vital to our mission, as is making a healthy lifestyle available to all,” Nicoll said. “With YMCAs serving more than 9 million children in 10,000 communities, and with our commitment to making the YMCA accessible to everyone, we believe every kid can and should be a healthy ’Y kid.’”

On Saturday, April 14, 2007, an estimated 550,000 children and families will visit nearly 1,700 YMCAs nationwide for the 16th Annual YMCA Healthy Kids Day, the nation’s largest health day for children. YMCA Healthy Kids Day is part of YMCA Activate America®, a nationwide initiative designed to help children and adults adopt and sustain a healthy lifestyle. To find YMCAs hosting YMCA Healthy Kids Day events or to locate their nearest YMCA, parents should visit

Additional YMCA Healthy Kids Day survey findings include:

Most kids’ definitions of what “play means to me” include physical activity, whether organized or free:

* Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) said play means “physical activity/moving my body around a lot.”
* Play can be organized or free: 48 percent defined play as “playing on a sports team;” 42 percent defined play as “no rules, only for fun.”
* Exercising one’s imagination is also part of play for 42 percent of kids polled.
* Play is a shared experience for most; 61 percent said play is “with others, friends or family” while 34 percent thought play “can be by myself.”

Running and swimming top play activities kids participate in to make their bodies stronger:

* Running was identified by 78 percent of kids polled.
* Swimming followed with 70 percent.

Other popular activities included:

* Gym class, 64 percent
* Jumping, 62 percent
* Walking, 62 percent
* Playing on a sports team, 60 percent
* Chasing friends or family, 57 percent

During a school day, many activities compete with physical play for a child’s time:

* Homework (79 percent), reading (72 percent) and sitting at a desk in school (70 percent) were the most often mentioned activities; other school activities or lessons were mentioned by 59 percent.
* Digital activities followed in popularity with 60 percent watching TV, 55 percent spending time on the computer and 37 percent playing video games.
* Chores were noted by 46 percent, and 44 percent said “driving around with parents” is part of their day.


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