Voices of the NPAP

Nancy Brown


Nancy Brown
Chief Executive Officer
American Heart Association


Which of the 8 Sectors are you involved in and why did you choose that particular sector?

The AHA is proud to have been integrally involved in helping to implement the National Physical Activity Plan. We have co-led work in the Business/Industry Sector, addressing issues related to incentives in worksite wellness programs that are tied to health care plans, collaborating with the Health Enhancement Research Organization, the American Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and the American Diabetes Association to offer guidance to employers in this area with implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  We have partnered with the American Council on Exercise and the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association to convene monthly stakeholder meetings and keep everyone abreast of policy and programmatic developments in the business/industry sector space. We are also conducting our own research to evaluate successes in the worksite environment where a majority of adults spend a large part of their day and have been addressing the issue of health screening in the workplace. 

Through our own work to achieve our 2020 goal of improving the cardiovascular health of the nation by 20% (and also reduce cardiovascular disease deaths by 20%), we have contributed to strategies in other sectors including parks, recreation, fitness and sport, education, non-profit, and transportation. This includes addressing a number of state and federal policy recommendations that are outlined in the Plan including physical education in schools, Safe Routes to School, street-level design policies that promote active transportation, shared use, and reimbursement for healthcare professionals that offer physical activity counseling and exercise prescription. We look forward to continuing to contribute our expertise and resources across multiple sectors as the National Physical Activity Plan is revised and updated. If we want to reverse the obesity epidemic and improve cardiovascular health, we have to continue to collaborate with all of the organizations that have worked so hard on the National Physical Activity Plan to create healthier environments where Americans live, learn, work, and play.

What's most exciting to you about the U.S. having a National Physical Activity Plan?

The most exciting thing about the U.S. having a National Physical Activity Plan is the impact that I know the Plan is having on the health of all Americans. This first-ever Plan translated the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and provided a roadmap to get people moving. Regular exercise has been shown in studies time and time again to be one of the best things a person can do for optimal cardiovascular health. The National Physical Activity Plan is raising the level of national dialogue on the benefits of physical activity and, as a result, is an initiative that is essential for the AHA to be part of to achieve our mission of building healthier lives, free from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

What will success of the NPAP look like to you in 3 years, 5 years? 10 years?

To me, the success of the National Physical Activity Plan will look very different in the short-term (3-5 year timeframe) than in the long-term (10 years+). In the short-term, success means a raised national awareness of the importance of integrating physical activity into everyday life and spreading the tools and solutions that Americans need to really make this change. Longer-term success comes in the form of a positive movement that changes behaviors and lifestyles and impacts key health metrics such as obesity and cardiovascular health. The National Physical Activity Plan is just a plan until it is acted on by the general public. Therefore, long-term success can really only be measured by improvements in health and lives saved.


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