"There is a need for more research on the amounts and intensities of physical activity that American youth accrue during the most common sports and structured recreational activities," write Russell R. Pate, Ph.D., and Jennifer R. O'Neill, Ph.D., M.P.H., of University of South Carolina, Columbia, in an accompanying editorial. "This would include not only organized team sports but also dance lessons (e.g., ballet, jazz, contemporary, tap) and outdoor activity programs (e.g., rock climbing, cycling, canoeing, kayaking)."

"Further and perhaps most importantly, we need to learn ways in which the doses of physical activity provided during youth sports and activity programs can be most effectively increased by modifying the manner in which the practices and contests are conducted."

"School physical education, informal physical activity in home or neighborhood settings and active transport to and from school can and should be important sources of physical activity for most American youth," they conclude. "Providing young people with the physical activity they need is one of the major public health challenges of the 21st century. Available evidence indicates that sports programs can make an important contribution but probably cannot be the singular solution to this challenge."

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Published online December 6, 2010. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.245.

Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine

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