Physical Activity in US Youth Aged 12-15 Years


Only ¼ of US youth ages 12-15 met national physical activity guidelines in 2012, and levels of physical activity differ by gender and weight status.


  • 24.8% of youth engaged in at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) each day.
  • 7.6% of youth did not achieve 60 minutes of MVPA any day of the week.
  • Although not a statistically significant difference between genders, 27.0% of boys and 22.5% of girls engaged in MVPA for 60 minutes or more on every day of the week in 2012.
    • Among boys, the percentage of normal-weight and overweight individuals who engaged in 60 minutes of daily MVPA was 29.5% compared with 18.0% of obese individuals; the percentage of girls who were physically active for at least 60 minutes per day decreased as weight status increased but differences were not statistically significant.
    • Of activities outside of school-based physical education and gym classes, the second most common reported by girls was walking, with 27.6% reporting that they walked, and bike riding was fifth, with 18.4%. Among boys, the fourth most common activity was biking (24.0%) and walking (23.6%) was fifth.


  • This report documents the most recent 2012 data on self-reported physical activity among youth from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey, 2012.

Fakhouri THI, Hughes JP, Burt VL, et al. (2014). Physical activity in U.S. youth aged 12–15 years, 2012. NCHS data brief, no 141. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 

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