Study: YMCAs Kids Get More Activity than Average U.S. Child

CHICAGO -- Children enrolled in YMCA programs not only have very positive attitudes about physical activity, but they also are more physically active than the average U.S. child, according to the results of a national poll targeting 6- to 12-year-old children conducted by YMCA of the USA.

Among YMCA kids surveyed, half said they exercise, dance or actively play six or seven days a week; another one-third are active four or five days a week. Eighty-one percent of kids said they "very much" like play that "helps me move my body." Only 1 percent said they do "not at all" like physical play.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 77 percent of U.S. children are active at least one day a week.

"These survey results are encouraging," says Neil Nicoll, president and CEO of YMCA of the USA. "With all of the negative statistics about kids, obesity and inactivity, we were really pleased to find that kids engaged with a YMCA have positive attitudes about physical activity and many are meeting or exceeding federal recommendations for exercise and active play."

More Survey Results

YMCA of the USA conducted the online survey of 920 kids, targeting ages 6 to 12, between Feb. 15 and March 4, 2007, in conjunction with its annual YMCA Healthy Kids®Day celebration. The survey, hosted on, was promoted through local YMCAs nationwide.

Most kids' definitions of what "play means to me" include physical activity, whether organized or free:

  • Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) said play means "physical activity/moving my body around a lot."
  • Play can be organized or free: 48 percent defined play as "playing on a sports team;" 42 percent defined play as "no rules, only for fun."
  • Exercising one's imagination is also part of play for 42 percent of kids polled.
  • Play is a shared experience for most; 61 percent said play is "with others, friends or family" while 34 percent thought play "can be by myself."

Running and swimming top play activities kids participate in to make their bodies stronger:

  • Running was identified by 78 percent of kids polled.
  • Swimming followed with 70 percent.

Other popular activities included:

  • Gym class, 64 percent
  • Jumping, 62 percent
  • Walking, 62 percent
  • Playing on a sports team, 60 percent
  • Chasing friends or family, 57 percent

During a school day, many activities compete with physical play for a child's time:

  • Homework (79 percent), reading (72 percent) and sitting at a desk in school (70 percent) were the most often mentioned activities; other school activities or lessons were mentioned by 59 percent.
  • Digital activities followed in popularity with 60 percent watching TV, 55 percent spending time on the computer and 37 percent playing video games.
  • Chores were noted by 46 percent, and 44 percent said "driving around with parents" is part of their day.
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