Committee Member Spotlight: Featuring Dr. Kraus

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The Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee is composed of 17 nationally recognized experts in the fields of physical activity and health. These distinguished individuals agreed to serve on the Committee in a voluntary capacity to review current evidence and make recommendations that will help inform the next edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. This post is part of a series of interviews with the Committee members to learn more about the men and women providing independent expertise and service to improve the health of the Nation.

Today, we are highlighting Dr. William Kraus, Director of Translational Research at the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute and a preventive sports cardiologist in the Duke Division of Cardiology. On the Committee, Dr. Kraus serves as the Chair of the Exposure Subcommittee and as a member of the Individuals with Chronic Conditions Subcommittee.

Dr. Kraus running the Boston Marathon in 2012.

Why were you interested in participating in the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee?

I think this Committee is the most important way scientists can impact the field of physical activity for health promotion. I was fortunate to be a member of the Advisory Committee for the first edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. As a member, one learns almost everything there is to know about physical activity and health. The experience of collaborating with scientists and colleagues towards a common end is both fun and fulfilling.

Explain your view of the role of physical activity in health

I believe that physical activity has the most beneficial and integrative effects on human health; it positively affects all of the organs of the body. There are too many health benefits to list. It is the cheapest and best intervention for a healthier and longer life.

Tell me about some of your recent research

My research focuses on understanding the effects of different amounts, intensities, and modes of exercise on health. I study exercise interventions in adults and the effects of exercise on health parameters and how they might happen. I’m also working on a six-year project to create a molecular map of how exercise affects the body, and how that, in turn, affects health.

What do you think are some of the challenges that prevent people from meeting the Guidelines?

I think the challenges are multidimensional. We have engineered physical activity out of our daily lives and there are social and personality factors that affect our priorities. Our built environment has been entirely designed to accommodate cars: there are even drive-through pharmacies and coffee shops. Drive-throughs enable sedentary behavior and are also bad for the environment since the car is idling while you wait. I like a good cup of coffee in the morning too, so when I go, I park my car far away, walk in, and avoid the line.

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The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion would like to personally thank each of the members for their dedication and service on the Committee. The Committee’s independent review of the scientific literature is the result of thousands of hours of work and will culminate with the submission of the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  HHS will use the report to develop the next edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

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