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National Physical Activity Plan aims to get Americans moving (5/5)

May 5, 2010
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Trust for America's Health (TFAH) in a press statement commends the recent launch of the National Physical Activity Plan, a comprehensive set of strategies, including policies, practices and initiatives, aimed at increasing physical activity at the population level.

“This Plan is responding to a compelling call from the American people to improve the health of our country,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. “An increase in physical activity can contribute to significant health improvements. A physically active lifestyle plays an important role in preventing many chronic diseases, including heart disease, hypertension, and type two diabetes. At a time when health care costs are rising dramatically, we often forget that physical activity is the ‘wonder drug’ we all have hoped for — in preventing disease and improving outcomes for those with chronic conditions.”

According to F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America 2009, a report released last year by TFAH and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, nationwide, less than one third of children ages 6-17 engaged in vigorous activity, defined as participating in physical activity for at least 20 minutes that made the child sweat or breathe hard. In addition, the number of adults who reported that they do not engage in any physical activity rose in nine states in 2009.

The Physical Activity Plan focuses on eight key areas, including public health, business and industry, education, health care, mass media, parks/recreation/sports, transportation/urban design/community planning, and volunteer/nonprofit organizations. The goal of this multi-sector, public/private partnership is to produce a marked and progressive increase in the percentage of Americans who meet physical activity guidelines throughout life.

“There is a growing body of evidence linking physical activity to improvements in academic performance, improved mental health, and reduced risk behaviors among adolescents and adults,” Levi said.

Increasing physical activity levels will result in improved health and well-being; increased productivity; reduction of health disparities; and lowered rates of disease, disability, and premature death attributable to sedentary lifestyles. Successful implementation of the Plan will increase physical activity in the U.S. population and will thereby reduce the prevalence of obesity and its co-morbidities as well as enhance the health of people of all shapes and sizes.

The National Physical Activity Plan is a private-public sector collaborative, engaging hundreds of organizations dedicated to changing our communities in ways that will enable every American to be sufficiently physically active. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Prevention Research Center at the University of South Carolina are providing the organizational infrastructure for The Plan.

The full plan is available online at www.physicalactivityplan.org.

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