Adopting Healthier Lifestyles: The Added Value of Physical Activity


Slade Sawyer

As the Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, I am excited about the release of the National Physical Activity Plan because I believe it will provide the necessary momentum to start a health social movement. At this time, it is important for everyone—regardless of sex or age—to get on the bandwagon.


Physical activity is the “silver bullet” for living a healthier lifestyle given its ability to strengthen muscles and bones, decrease the chance of becoming depressed, and increase our chances of living longer. Quite frankly, exercise can revolutionize lives and give us the energy needed to live more fulfilled lives. It is imperative that we, as health and fitness professionals, work to change social norms. Exercise is vitally important for everyone and should be encouraged in every sector, including at work, school, home, and in our communities. This point needs to be reiterated on our Web sites and during every speech we make. Too often we focus on weight—the number on the scale—when we should focus on overall health and well-being. Physical activity need not be considered an additional chore on our task lists. Instead, physical activity can be fun and incorporated into our day. For example, it is possible to reap health benefits by simply walking briskly for 30 minutes most days of the week.


We’re all aware of the substantial benefits that come with being physically active such as a decreased incidence of developing diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Everyone can take steps today. I realize that change will not happen overnight, but if we work within our sphere of influence and among our friends and family, change can happen. Lives can be improved. We can make a difference!


As a former physical therapist with 20 years of experience, I know the difference getting up and moving can make. And, I’m concerned that the country is not moving enough. This Plan, I believe, has the ability to put us on the right course.  


How will you work within your sphere of influence to impact social norms?


How will your organization promote the National Physical Activity Plan?