The National Physical Activity Plan is an ambitious, comprehensive, and vital blueprint for creating a more active culture. It embodies the principles and best ideas formulated by folks steeped in the urgent effort to increase physical activity among all Americans. Already it is having an impact.
But there is a significant barrier. And it is one that must be overcome before the vision of the Plan can be fully realized.
It is the misconception that the ultimate goal of the National Physical Activity Plan is to promote physical activity. It isn't.
The ultimate goal of the National Physical Activity Plan is to save lives - millions of lives - and to improve the overall health and wellbeing of every American.
It is a goal worthy of the full attention of policymakers and thought leaders. And given the staggering cost of obesity and chronic diseases in this country - coupled with the dismal forecast for the life expectancy of America's current generation of children - it is a seriously urgent goal that requires immediate action.
Last month, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly held a high-level meeting to discuss the devastating impact that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are having around the world. Not surprisingly, they reached the very conclusion that prompted the development of our country's own National Physical Activity Plan two years ago:
The resolution that resulted from the meeting recognized "the critical importance of reducing the level of expsoure of individuals and populations to the common modifiable risk factors for non-communicable diseases, namely, tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and the harmful use of alcohol, and their determinants while at the same time strengthening the capacity of individuals and populations to make healthier choices and follow lifestyle patterns that foster good health."
In a recent editorial published by McClatchy Newspapers, Joe Moore, President and CEO of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), connected the pressing nature of the UN resolution directly to the National Physical Activity Plan.
"As UN members formulate a coordinated strategy to prevent and control NCDs around the globe, we need to consider our own efforts," Moore wrote. "What can we do, as a united nation, to fight back the NCDs that we've let grow out of control in our own backyards?"
He continues, "Our country's first-ever National Physical Activity Plan lays out a vision that one day, all Americans will be physically active and will live, work, and play in environments that facilitate regular physical activity. Its ultimate purpose is to improve health, prevent disease and disability, and enhance quality of life."
In short, the National Physical Activity Plan is about making America strong again.
And that demands attention.
What are your ideas on what else we can do to emphasize the urgency of the National Physical Activity Plan? How do we get policymakers and opinion leaders to pay attention? What is your organization doing?