National Physical Activity Plan Calls for Policy Changes



Couple Walking

As was written in NCPPA’s recent blog, public policy is a complex process, involving participation from individuals and organizations working to influence those in position to make policy change.  Evident in the NPAP’s guiding principles (see below), the NPAP is a policy document at heart.  If acted upon, the policy changes called for in the NPAP will create environments that weave physical activity back into the fabric of American’s daily lives.  Being more active will not just be an easier choice to make, but will be a more organic feature of daily living.

Now that the NPAP has been launched, and the NCPPA is spearheading its implementation, the Coordinating Committee that developed the NPAP is poised to oversee evaluation and regular revision of the NPAP. So what does success of an NPAP look like, and how is it evaluated?  Evaluation of an NPAP will ideally include surveillance of and regular reporting on a myriad of proximal and distal outcomes of interest. Naturally, observing more Americans meeting and surpassing physical activity guidelines is the outcome of greatest interest, and we’re fortunate to already have some surveillance systems in place to measure this.  However, this is a distal variable in which change may not be observable for many years to come.

The challenge is to focus efforts on more short term outcomes that will add up to changes in physical activity at the population level.  The NPAP is chock full of strategies and tactics aimed at policies that will lead to changes in these short term outcomes.  Is there a strategy or tactic in the NPAP that you feel is of paramount importance in creating short term change?  If so, what metrics might you use to evaluate and report on that strategy or tactic? 

As the field of physical activity and public health evolves, and as the NPAP meets success in implementation, the NPAP will need to remain current.  Policies will be acted upon, bills will be passed, and environments changed. As a web-based document, many small revisions can be regularly made to the NPAP.  However, the NPAP will need to undergo substantial revision every two to four years.  Looking into your crystal ball, which strategies and tactics do you envision will have been successfully implemented four years from now?  How would you revise the NPAP to reflect such change?

NPAP’s Seven Guiding Principles:

  • Use evidence to inform the Plan’s actions to promote physical activity.
  • Include initiatives for all socio-demographic groups.
  • Aim actions at local, state, federal, and institutional levels.
  • Encourage the involvement of diverse stakeholders to guide the content of the Plan.
  • Ground the Plan in the ecological model of health behavior.
  • Ensure that the Plan’s initiatives reduce health disparities across socio-demographic groups.
  • Present the Plan as a “living document” that is updated on a regular basis

If you are interested in contributing to the evaluation of and/or the regular revision of the NPAP, please visit our Web site and find out more about how to get involved.