Meeting physical activity guidelines and health-related fitness in youth

Am J Prev Med. 2013 May;44(5):439-44. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.01.008.


Background: National physical activity guidelines have been developed for Americans. Interest lies in the relationship between meeting the national physical activity guidelines and physical fitness outcomes in youth. Theoretically, those who meet the physical activity guidelines are more physically fit, which translates to better health and reduced risk.

Purpose: To examine the relationship between youth self-reported physical activity behaviors sufficient to meet DHHS Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and an external health criterion: achievement of the FITNESSGRAM(®) Healthy Fitness Zone™ (HFZ).

Methods: Logistic regression was used to examine achievement of the HFZ for three physical fitness measures (i.e., aerobic capacity, BMI, and muscle fitness) separately, and for all three combined, based on self-reported physical activity of 7 days per week for aerobic activity and ≥3 days per week of muscle-strengthening activity. One model examined the direct relationship between physical activity and fitness measures, and a second model assessed the same relationship while controlling for gender, age, ethnicity, economic status, and school. Data were collected during the 2009-2010 academic year and analyzed in 2012.

Results: Adolescents failing to meet national aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity guidelines have higher odds of not achieving healthy physical fitness levels of aerobic capacity, BMI, muscle fitness, and the combination of all three. An increase in the number of days of aerobic activity was related to decreased odds of being in the Needs Improvement Fitness Zone.

Conclusions: The findings provide further support that meeting the national physical activity guidelines produces health benefits for youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Social Class