News and information from the National Physical Activity Plan 02/2013

Trust for Public Land Develops ‘Fitness Parks’

In an effort to make physical activity the easy choice, the Trust for Pulic Land has decided to construct ‘Fitness Zone’ programs in many cities acro ss the nation. A fitness zone is essentially a free outdoor gym. The Trust is financing the implementation of weather-durable exercise equipment in 80 parks around the nation in order to create healthy outdoor playgrounds open to the public.

In addition to making the equipment durable to withstand the weather, the equipment is attractive and this helps beautify existing areas. Cities that either have fitness zones currently or will get them in the future include Denver, New Orleans, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles.

This program represents action on Strategies 1 and 2 from the NPAP’s  Parks, Recreation, Fitness and Sport sector.

  Number of Graduates in Physical Education and Physical Activity Rising

As the U.S. population faces increasing challenges associated with low population levels of physical activity, the value of a degree in exercise studies is reaching new heights. According to a recent report from the The Wall Street Journal, majors in kinesiology and physical education are rapidly increasing in undergraduate institutions throughout the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal further reports that while those receiving degrees in Kinesiology or other exercise-related disciplines may face ridicule from friends and family, the commercial and academic opportunities awaiting them after graduating rapidly erase that criticism.

Specific recommendations from the NPAP’s Public Health Sector

and the Parks, Recreation, Fitness and Sport sector specifically address the need for more and better-trained professionals in the area of physical activity and health.

 APHA Policy Statement to Support NPAP Now Available

The American Public Health Association (APHA), the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world, recently released their

policy statement supporting the National Physical Activity Plan. The statement provides arguments and evidence for supporting the NPAP, and highlights the following actions that will be taken:

APHA plans to help implement the NPAP strategies by:

  • Forming partnerships with other national and state  organizations to disseminate and promote the NPAP.
  • Urging state and local health departments and other public- and private-sector organizations to adopt strategies recommended in the NPAP.
  • Encouraging individual members and staff to adopt and maintain a physically active lifestyle as recommended by the HPAP through the implementation of policies and programs.
  • Facilitating support for federal transportation, education, environmental, and health legislation that directly or indirectly promotes physical activity.


PE Requirement for University Students at All-Time Low

The quality and quantity of physical education in grades K-12 receives a significant amount of attention in physical activity research and practice. Physical education for college students receives much less attention, but according to Oregon State University professor Dr. Brad Cardinal, it may be an important part of increasing population levels of physical activity.

In the early 20th century nearly 100% of college students were required to take physical education. According to recent study from Cardinal, today only 39% of college students have that same requirement.   “We see more and more evidence about the benefit of physical activity, not just to our bodies, but to our minds, yet educational institutions are not embracing their own research,” Cardinal said. “It is alarming to see four-year institutions following the path that K-12 schools have already gone down, eliminating exercise as part of the curriculum even as obesity rates climb.”

Cardinal’s research shows that while many colleges and universities offer exercise classes, fitness centers, and intramural sports, those offerings predominantly attract students who are already fit. More emphasis, according to Cardinal, needs to be placed on engaging students who are less likely to take participate in traditional fitness offerings such as those of lower fitness levels, international students, and first-year students.

The National Physical Activity Plan’s Education sector specifically addresses this concern stating that post-secondary institutions should provide access to physical activity opportunities, including physical activity courses, robust club and intramural programs, and adequate physical activity and recreation facilities.


 New Hampshire Plan Aims to Increase Outdoor Physical Activity

The state of New Hampshire has developed a new five-year strategic plan aimed at significantly increasing opportunities for physical activity across the lifespan. The Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) focuses on four priorities:

  1. Connecting people to the outdoors.
  2. Highlighting ways outdoor recreation contributes to the state’s economic vitality.
  3. Improving upon current public outreach and education programs.
  4. Protecting the state’s natural resources.

Through the plan, opportunities for physical activity include:

  • Parks with playgrounds and picnic tables.
  • Dog parks where canines and their owners alike can enjoy some play time.
  • Pathways that allow for walking from home to stores or community centers and back again.
  • Bicycle paths and right-of-ways for both exercise and commuting, as well as safe walking routes to schools.

SCORP uses results from state surveys, focus groups and research to predict changes that need to be made over the next five years to improve recreational activity. The priority areas of SCORP align with many of the recommendations found in the NPAP’s Parks, Recreation, Fitness, and Sport sector.


Arthritis Foundation Becomes NPAP Partner

The Arthritis Foundation’s mission is to improve lives through leadership in the prevention, control and cure of arthritis and related diseases.

In 2010, the Arthritis Foundation (AF) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched A National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis. This blueprint for action proposed several recommended actions for reducing the burden of osteoarthritis (OA), including physical activity. In response to the call to action outlined in the OA Agenda, the AF received funding through a CDC cooperative agreement to develop the Environmental and Policy Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Adults With Arthritis.

Using the sectors outlined in the National Physical Activity Plan as a guide, six influential sectors were identified as having the potential to reach adults with arthritis and had crucial roles in influencing, and sustaining physical activity among adults with arthritis. Strategies within each sector were identified that are arthritis-specific and are intended to supplement more comprehensive recommendations and applicable laws. The priority strategies are based on: the

opinions of experts from government, physical activity, arthritis and health care; their likelihood of having the greatest impact on adults with arthritis; are the most practical and doable; and can be initiated within 1-2 years.

“Physical activity is an important but underused approach to improving the lives of people with arthritis,” says Arthritis Foundation Vice President for Public Health, Dr. Patience White. “The Arthritis Foundation is working to strengthen our relationships within the physical activity community and is proud to join the National Physical Activity Plan as an Organizational Partner.”


Tucson Mayor Challenges Residents to Get Active


The mayor of Tucson, Arizona, Jonathan Rothschild, is not wasting any time getting his community active. Through his innovative program Walk 100 Miles with the Mayor, Rothschild will provide special recognition to residents who walk or run 100 miles between January 5, 2013 and June 1, 2013.


Signing up to be part of the initiative is quick and simple. All that is required is to go to the homepage, sign up, and track your miles with your new profile. The website is designed for easy use, highlighting safe places to run and walk throughout the city. The website also utilizes social support for physical activity by providing the time and location of group activities.

RRCA Announces New Runner Friendly communities

The cities of Peachtree, GA, Eugene OR, and Columbus, GA were all recently announced as selections for the Runner Friendly Community® designation from the Road Runners Club of America. According to RRCA, “the goal of this program is to shine a national spotlight on communities that standout as runner friendly and to provide incentives and ideas for communities to work towards becoming runner friendly communities.”

In order to achieve this designation, these communities have demonstrated that they meet the program’s criteria which include:

  • Community infrastructure
  • Community support
  • Local government support

A total of 20 communities nationwide have also chieved this designation.


19th Annual Physical Activity & Public Health Course to be held in September

The Physical Activity and Public Health Courses, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center will hold its 19th annual training event from September 10-18, 2013 in Park City, Utah. Over 500 researchers and 400 practitioners working in the physical activity and public health field have attended the course. Participants have come from across the US and around the world. The course faculty is comprised of nationally recognized experts in physical activity and public health.

Two courses are held concurrently: 1) Postgraduate Course on Research Directions and Strategies, and 2) Practitioner’s Course on Community Interventions. The Postgraduate Course targets postdoctoral personnel and is designed to develop competencies related to physical activity and public health through topics such as grantsmanship, research funding opportunities, study design, physical activity measurement, and research needs in specific sub-populations. Participants bring a research idea with them to the course, which they develop throughout the week through small group discussions and individual meetings with faculty.

I was working on a proposed natural experiment that was to examine the impact of park renewal on park usage and park-based physical activity. At the course I spoke individually with seven members of the faculty and gained valuable input from experienced researchers who offered insights and suggestions from varying points of view. On my return to Australia, I submitted an application to fund this study to a nationally competitive funding body. This 3 year study has recently been funded and will commence in 2013.” – Jenny Veitch, Postdoctoral Fellow at Deakin University and 2011 Research Course participant.

The Practitioner’s Course on Community Interventions is targeted to those who are involved or interested in promoting physical activity through community-based initiatives. Topics include public health models for physical activity promotion, needs assessment, best practice intervention strategies, and program evaluation. The course culminates with a Community Workshop in which participants visit a local area and discuss strategies for improving access to physical activity in that community.

In my line of work, I don’t hear much about data, and don’t spend time with the data that I do have. I learned about evidence-based decision making; where to find such documentation, and how to use it in my work. I saw examples of how research can be used to further the work on the obesity and lack of physical activity areas, and how to continue to partner with those in the health and wellness field to make a difference. Lastly I learned that there are lots of good people doing good work, and that only by working together and sharing information will any of us succeed. It was an amazing experience.” – Sue Goodwin, Recreation Division Director at Seattle Parks Department and 2005 Practitioner’s Course participant.

Oliver Bartzsch is an experienced medical professional with over 15 years of professional experience. With a passion for medicine, fitness, and personal growth, he is always willing to challenge himself to accomplish tasks and especially to provide accurate medical information to people. Oliver is a long-time medical editor for multiple sites. With more than 10 years of medical writing experience, he has completed over 350 projects with both individual and corporate clients.


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