Skip Navigation
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Banner

Get Active - Your Source for Reliable Health Information Send a personalized e-card to friends and family

Be Active Your Way Blog

Physical Activity in Healthy People 2020

by ODPHP April 11, 2011

Written by Janet Fulton, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How were the physical activity objectives developed?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition worked with a team of federal agency representatives to formulate the objectives for the physical activity topic area. The availability of recent and ongoing nationally-representative data were a necessary requirement for inclusion of an objective; public comments provided further guidance for the final objectives. The Healthy People 2020 default method (10% relative beneficial change) was most commonly used to set the target for each objective.

What's new for Healthy People 2020?

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provided an evidence-based framework by which the Healthy People 2020 physical activity behavioral objectives were revised. For adults and youth, objectives PA-2 and PA-3 are now consistent with the Guidelines. Because aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities are BOTH required to fully meet the Guidelines, sub-objectives for youth and adults that combine aerobic and muscle-strenghtening activities are now included.

School-based physical activity is reflected in modified objectives for physical education (PA-4 and PA-5) and in two new objectives for elementary school recess (PA-6 and PA-7). More than 60% of pre-school

children attend child care. Therefore, enacting policies that require physical activity in the child care setting (PA-9) is a strategy to modify the physical activity environment for children. Given the ubiquitous role screen time plays in society, the modified objective for youth to reduce screen time through telelvision viewing and computer use (PA-8) is an increasingly important goal.

A new objective for Healthy People 2020 (PA-11) will monitor physician counseling about exercise. Given the recent emphasis on physician counseling about physical activity by the American College of Sports Medicine's Exercise is Medicine program, it is timely that physical activity guidance in the health care setting is tracked at the national level.

Where do we go from here?

With less than 20% of adults meeting the Guidelines for aerobic and muscle strengthening activities and a similarly low percentage of youth meeting the Guidelines for aerobic physical activities, a multidisciplinary approach is needed to facilitate improvements in recommended levels of physical activity.

The importance of having reliable, nationally-representative data sources to track the metrics associated with physical activity cannot be overstated. Important and novel topics were discussed by the Work Group, only to learn that a suitable data source was unavailable. For example, improving the environment for physical activity is a recommended strategy, although there is no acceptable national data source that tracks individual access to green spaces or parks. The same is true for physical activity in the work place. It is imperative to continue support of current Healthy People 2020 data sources and to support future collection of strategic priority topic areas for physical activity promotion.

It is our hope that as these Healthy People objectives disseminate across states and into the schools, businesses, and organizations that make up our communities, there will be an interest in working across sectors to affect real change in physical activity behaviors. The National Physical Activity Plan provides an excellent multi-sectoral framework along with strategies and specific tactics for action. Time and again the health benefits of physical activity have been well documented. Let's work together to move the dial on physical activity this decade!


7/17/2011 3:21:15 PM #

(Link Removed) (Link Removed) therapy management</a> of overweight individuals can go a long way in improving the levels of physical activity for adults and children. I think physical therapists should work closely with PE teachers to improve health standards of children across the nation.

Arthur Jameson United States |

7/27/2011 11:44:06 AM #

As a (Link Removed) (Link Removed) therapy marketing</a> professional and physical therapist, I am glad that  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition are promoting physical activity.

Being active physically has tons of benefits and it keeps you healthy.

Mark Rogers United States |

9/23/2011 11:23:54 PM #

It's good to know people are still making an effort to be healthy.  Though it may not just be enough anymore, one should be well.  Being well, includes being active in alternative medicine.  Such as having a chiropractor.  (Link Removed) is a great wellness center in NYC area.  

I find alternative medicine is far better then pharmaceutical medicine for being healthier.  What do you guys think?

Andrew United States |

9/30/2011 12:13:10 AM #

It seems all countries are becoming overweight, it's bad here in Australia now, never used to be that way.

(Link Removed)

Len Australia |

1/11/2012 3:39:36 PM #

I Love How The President Of Council Fitness Is Willing To Help People In The United States To Better There Body , There Is Alot Of Unhealty People Who Do Need The Help .

miller United States |

10/9/2012 8:16:40 AM #

There Is Alot Of Unhealty People Who Do Need The Help .

Online dissertation Topics Islamic Republic of Pakistan |

11/19/2012 12:40:10 PM #

It seems all countries are becoming overweight, it's bad here in Bulgaria now, never used to be that way.

Founder & CEO of
(Link Removed) (Link Removed)

creatine monohydrate Bulgaria |

Skip Navigation


Comment RSS

HHS | Accessibility | Privacy Policy | Freedom of Information Act | Disclaimer | Contact Us

This page last updated on: 11/04/2009

Content for this site is maintained by the
Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Link to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -