Newly released: Recommendations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities calls for action on early childhood, healthy communities, and bridging health and health care. Read the report and explore the charts, infographics, and videos at

Physical Activity

Physical activity can improve children’s and adolescents’ cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, emotional, mental and psychological health. However, kids face a number of barriers to becoming more active, including access to safe, walkable streets, open spaces, playing fields and parks. For the most vulnerable children – those who come from minority or low-income families – these barriers to engaging in physical activity are the greatest. 

Schools –where children spend the majority of their time - have an important role to play in providing children with opportunities for physical activity.  The Commission recommends:

RECOMMENDATION: Require all schools (K-12) to include time for all children to be physically active every day.  One in five children will be obese by 2010.  Children should be active at least one hour each day; only one-third of high-school students currently meet this goal.  Schools can help meet this physical activity goal, through physical education programs, active recess, after-school and other recreational activities. Education funding should be linked to all children achieving at least half of their daily recommended physical activity at school, and over time should be linked to reductions in childhood obesity rates.

Sports4Kids, a nonprofit. public-private partnership, provides safe, healthy physical activity at low-income schools so that “every child has the chance to play.” Read more

Marin County Safe Routes to School
In Marin County, CA, The Safe Routes to School program aims to increase the number of students walking and biking to school. Read more

Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina
Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina is a statewide movement that promotes increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity wherever people live, learn, work, play and pray. Read more

Related Resources

  • July 24 Webinar: A Focus on Starting Early

    Thanks to all who joined Friday's webinar, "A Focus on Starting Early." This page features the audio recording and accompanying slides from the discussion. Sign up here to be notified about the next two webinars in this three-part series on the Commission's recommendations.

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  • Income Is Linked With Health Regardless of Racial or Ethnic Group

    For children in the United States, differences in general health status by income do not simply reflect differences by race or ethnicity. Both income and racial or ethnic group are important for health.

  • Persistent Gaps in Health Behaviors: Physical Activity

    Education disparities in physical inactivity among adults—with lower educational attainment corresponding to higher proportions of physical inactivity—have persisted over time. The gaps do not appear to be narrowing.

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