To mark the fifth year of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, a subcommittee of experts compiled a new report on Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth. This report highlighted five key settings where youth can be physically active, with evidence-based recommendations for each. The five settings are: school, preschool and childcare centers, community and the built environment, family and home, and primary care. This article will explore how youth can be physically active in each setting adding in inclusive components to engage youth of all abilities.
Preschool and Childcare Centers
It is imperative that children start being physically active early in life in order to develop lifelong health habits. In this setting, active play with many options for engagement, larger playgrounds, outdoor spaces with active play in mind and trained staff can prove important in getting kids active from an early age.
Community and Built Environment
The community setting has enormous potential for increasing physical activity at the population level, thus establishing ways for all youth to be more active. The main physical activityrelated features of the built environment are parks and recreation facilities, transportation systems and sidewalks among other urban planning design factors. Redesigning these structures to incorporate physical activity allows for increased walkability/ wheelability, active transportation and helps facilitate physical activity regardless of socioeconomic status. Complete Streets is an example of a design and policy approach with all users in mind.
Family and Home
The home is a logical setting for encouraging physical activity in youth given that children often develop behaviors, values and attitudes from their family members during childhood. The home setting also provides a structured environment for parents to enable children to be physically active. Parents and family members are important role models for encouraging physical activity in youth.
The health care setting is another promising environment for encouraging physical activity among youth. Physician check-ups are focused on prevention services and can also allow health care providers to check in on physical activity levels. A large number of youth can be reached in a primary care setting and, thus, health care providers should be encouraging and prescribing physical activity. A collaborative effort is needed to encourage physical activity opportunities for all youth. Childhood obesity is a winnable battle—encourage your kids to get in their 60 minutes or more every day!