1. Lipman, Terri H.

Article Content

Pate, R. R., Wang, C. Y., Dowda, M., Farrell, S. W., & O'Neill, J. R. (2006). Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 160, 1005-1012.


An essential component of pediatrics is teaching the importance of exercise and activity to maintain cardiovascular health. Adolescents spend several hours a day playing computer games, watching television, and instant messaging with their friends. Are these youths also exercising? Are they fit?


The fitness of 3,287 subjects aged 12 to 19 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2002 was assessed. The youths were interviewed and given a treadmill exercise test. Blood pressure, heart rate, and rate of perceived exertion were measured. Subjects were asked to rate how hard they believed their bodies were working. Results showed that exercise tolerance was better in boys and subjects who were not overweight. There were no racial or ethnic differences. Teens who reported more sedentary behaviors were less likely to be physically fit. In general, only 65% of the subjects met the criteria for being physically fit.


The results of this study present a significant public health problem. Low physical fitness in adolescence tends to track into adulthood, and adults who are not fit are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition to educating families on the importance of regular activity, pediatric nurses can lobby for the need for exercise programs during and after school. It is important to target adolescents who spend more than 1 hour per day of "screen time." Pediatric hospitals and units should incorporate exercise facilities for recovering patients and hospital staff to model this critical aspect of healthcare.

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Terri H. Lipman