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The importance of habitual physical activity (PA) on health starts even before a child is born as meeting recommended levels of PA during pregnancy is associated with lower rates of maternal conditions that adversely affect the developing fetus including excessive gestational weight gain, gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension.1 Women who are physically active during pregnancy, are also more likely to continue activity postpartum2 and the children of active mothers are more likely to be active themselves;3 thereby elevating the importance of PA promotion during pregnancy and postpartum.
Regular PA is important in each stage of a child's life. Infants and toddlers should be allowed and encouraged to engage in activities that develop essential motor skills.4 Preschool-aged children should participate in activities that begin the process of motor skill development such as kicking and throwing a ball. School-age children spend the majority of their waking hours in school and school-related activities. Active transportation to and from school, recess, quality physical education, sport and after school activities provide numerous opportunities for children and adolescents to achieve the recommended 60 min/day of moderate to vigorous PA.5 ,6 Despite these opportunities, only 27.1% of US high school students surveyed participate in at least 60 min/day of PA on 7 days of the week, and only 29% attend daily physical education.7 By age 15, only 17% of US girls, compared to 33% of boys, report at least 1 hour of moderate-to-vigorous PA daily.8 Multiple sectors of society (eg, school, public health, …
Contributors EAJ and FL have contributed to the ideas, content and editing of the submitted manuscript.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.