Physical activity in a multiethnic population of third graders in four states

Am J Public Health. 1997 Jan;87(1):45-50. doi: 10.2105/ajph.87.1.45.


Objectives: This research assessed the amount of daily physical activity in a multiethnic sample of US third-grade students.

Methods: Physical activity interviews were conducted with 2410 third graders from 96 schools in four states. Blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index, timed run for distance, physical-activity self-efficacy, and perceived support for physical activity were also assessed.

Results: Students reported a daily average of 89.9 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, 34.7 minutes of vigorous activity, and 120.4 minutes of sedentary behavior; however, 36.6% obtained less than 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily, and 12.8% reported less than 30 minutes. Boys reported more physical and sedentary activity than girls; White children reported more activity than Black or Hispanic children; California children reported the most activity and Louisiana children the least. Geographic location, male gender, lower cholesterol, higher perceived efficacy in physical activity, and higher social support were associated with more physical activity.

Conclusions: Average reported activity met the Year 2000 objectives; however, many students reported less than recommended amounts of activity. These findings support the need for health promotion programs that increase the number of physically active children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • California
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Louisiana
  • Male
  • Minnesota
  • Risk Factors
  • Students*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Texas
  • Time Factors