Study: too few places to exercise

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A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may provide some explanation for why the obesity rate among youngsters continues to climb.

According to the report, released by the government agency, most Americans don’t live in communities where they are encouraged — by parks, sidewalks and playgrounds — to become more physically active. Only 20% of residential blocks contain parks within half a mile, and only half of the children surveyed said they had ready access to such facilities.

And for parents who feel that schools and day care centers are giving their kids the exercise they can’t get at home, the report provides some more sobering numbers. Not all states require schools from the elementary to high school level to teach physical education — only 37 of them make it mandatory — and only eight states require physical activity in state-licensed child care centers.

Commenting on the survey, First Lady Michelle Obama, who has recently launched a campaign to address obesity among American youth, noted that “Too many kids … have limited access to physical activity because they live in neighborhoods that aren’t safe, go to schools where P.E. classes have been cut or live in communities where there are no sports leagues or afterschool activity programs. We need parents and teachers, business and community leaders and the public and private sectors to come together to create more opportunities for our kids to be active so they can lead happy healthy lives.”