As important as the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are, we know that simply telling people what they should do will not necessarily enable them to act. So, in 2007 I was excited when colleagues at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encouraged me to coordinate the process of developing a National Physical Activity Plan for the U.S. To best enable increases in population levels of physical activity, we must create environments that are conducive to being active. The National Physical Activity Plan will do just that. A primary goal of the Plan is to encourage policy makers to affect activity-supportive change at local, state and federal levels. Proper execution of the Plan will bring about the changes necessary to allow more Americans to meet the Physical Activity Guidelines.
Where did the impetus for the National Physical Activity Plan start? Over the past 15 years physical activity has assumed an increasingly high profile in the public health community…in the U.S. and worldwide. Key landmarks have included production of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health in 1996 and release of the first Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans in 2008. I was privileged to serve on the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, and so I believe I understand well the strengths and limitations of the Guidelines. Strengths include a very solid grounding in the pertinent scientific evidence and comprehensive recommendations for all segments of the American society. But, by design, the Guidelines do not address the changes that we need to make in our society to enable many more people to meet the Guidelines.
What changes will you make in your setting to increase the physical activity levels of your family members, friends and neighbors? How might you or your organization become involved in The Plan? If you’re not involved already and want to become so, please contact us.