In all likelihood, if you are reading this blog, you're already well aware of the myriad of benefits associated with being regularly physically active, and you likely meet or exceed federal physical activity guidelines. What you may be less aware of are the ways in which you can become a voice for physical activity promotion in your community, so that your neighbors, colleagues, and friends can also realize the benefits of being more active.
Maybe you've noticed that physical education is no longer required in your children's school, that there are unsafe sidewalks in your town, or no bike racks where you work, while others never give you thought to such issues. As an individual, what can you do? With May being National Physical Activity Month, you can use the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) to become a voice for change that echoes for months to come.
The NPAP is a document comprised of recommendations for changes in the environments in which we live, work, play, travel, and learn, such that they better support physical activity. Most of the recommendations made in the NPAP are written with policymakers in mind. Maybe as an employer, school board member, or parent, you are policymaker, with the ability to alter an environment so that it's easier for others to be more active. If so, the buck may start and stop with you. But maybe you're not a policymaker, what then? Then, you can become a voice for change, an informed advocate with the power to influence those in position to make change.
With recommendations from across a number of societal sectors - including Education; Parks, Recreation, Fitness and Sports; Business and Industry; and Transportation, Land Use, and Community Design - the NPAP is your roadmap for becoming an advocate at local, state, and even national levels.
For example, if you want to be a voice for more physical activity opportunities for youth in your community, approach the local school board or P.T.A. with the information from the Education sector, citing specific recommendations from the NPAP that call for community partnerships that will create such opportunities.
As another example, maybe you know that if there were just more bike lanes and sidewalks where you live, more people could safely walk to the store, or bike to work. Here, you can become an advocate for change at local and state levels by meeting with your elected officials or members of your state's Department of Transportation, armed with "real world" recommendations for change that have been proven effective.
There could not be a better way to celebrate National Physical Activity Month than to model healthy physical activity behavior, while also becoming an educated advocate for physical activity. So please use the Federal PA Guidelines to become or stay a model of healthy behavior, and use the NPAP to become a strong advocate for change to improve the lives of others.
How are you advocating for change?