News and information from the National Physical Activity Plan 05/2012

New IOM report: Fitness Measures and Health Outcomes in Youth  

A recent report from the Institute of Medicine provides evidence-based recommendations on which measures of fitness are most appropriate for those designing fitness batteries targeting children. Specifically, the committee that generated the report recommended assessment of cardiorespiratory endurance, body mass index, and musculoskeletal fitness. The committee did not find sufficient evidence to support measurement of flexibility.

Realizing many of the recommendations found in the National Physical Activity Plan’s Education Sector and Parks, Recreation, Fitness, and Sports Sector will help youth meet federal physical activity guidelines, thus improving their fitness and long-term health.

Achieving regular physical activity through physical education, sport participation, active transportation, and active play all contribute to improving fitness levels of youth. Measuring youth fitness provides an understanding of the relationship between fitness in early years and health outcomes across the lifespan. Efforts to measure youth fitness have existed for decades but some of those measures have come under criticism for the extent to which they correspond with health outcomes.


Dr. Toni Yancey works to increase physical activity in U.S. cities.

One of the National Physical Activity Pan’s guiding principles is to reduce health disparities across socio-demographic groups. UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health recently earned a $20 million federal grant  to implement an anti-obesity campaign to address health disparities which frequently exist in urban areas nationwide. Informed by 20 years worth of research, UCLA researchers will partner with community-based organizations to develop culturally sensitive programs that resonate with local urban residents.

Dr. Antronette “Toni” Yancey, co-leader of the project, has learned through her extensive research experience in promoting active living in minority communities that implementing programs that people actually enjoy is one of the keys to successful interventions, and people love to dance.

Part of the project will be development of short music and dance exercise videos specifically for different ethnic groups.  This video concept developed by Dr. Yancey is called “Instant Recess.”  “If the program is offered in an African-American church, for example, the music would be different, the moves different, from a Korean community,” said Roshan Bastani, co-leader of the project. The project will also make use of social support by targeting groups of “captive audiences” as opposed to targeting individuals.

Dr. Yancey played an instrumental role in developing the National Physical Activity Plan and remains an active member of its Coordinating Committee. Dr. Yancey was also recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Black Women Physicians.


International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health  

From October 31-November 3, 2012 physical activity and public health experts from around the world met in Sydney, Australia for Be Active 2012, the 4th International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health.

This biennial congress of the International Society of Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) provides a scientific forum for professionals from many fields and disciplines to share in the latest research, practice and policies relating to safe participation in physical activity.


City of San Antonio launches Active Living Plan

The Active Living Council of the city of San Antonio, TX recently released their Active Living Plan for a Healthier San Antonio.  This represents the first known municipal plan to be modeled after the National Plan.  Developers of the San Antonio plan organized their plan around the same 8 societal sectors as the National plan, with strategies and specific actions tailored to local needs.  Similar to the National Plan, several guiding principles informed development of the Active Living Plan:

  • Increasing physical activity will improve the health and wellness of individuals in our community.
  • Making the healthy choice the easy choice in our local communities, where we live, work, pray, and play, is everyone’s business.
  • The plan recognizes that individuals re impacted not just by their own personal attributes and behavior, but also by political, societal and environmental influences.
  • Our success in dependent upon engaging leadership and working collaboratively to determine the content of the plan and to implement the plan. At the same time using evidence based strategies and best practices and evaluating effectiveness are equally important.
  • All socio-demographic groups will benefit from initiatives proposed by this plan.
  • The plan is a “living document” that must be updated on a regular basis.

Designed to Move

For the first time in history, this generation is expected to die 5 years younger than their parents. This is the premise for a compelling video that is part of Designed to Move – A Physical Activity Action Agenda.

Designed to Move is an international effort aimed primarily at helping children 10 years of age and younger to lead a more physically active lifestyle. The effort, lead by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Nike, and the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICCSPE), presents data on the global impact of youth physical inactivity and offers evidence-based solutions to the creating a more active generation of youth internationally.


Physical Activity plays greater role in American Public Health Association

The American Public Health Association is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world and has been working to improve public health since 1872.

The 140th annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), was held October 27-31, 2012 in San Francisco, and an increased recognition of the importance of physical activity to public health was noticed. For the first time in history, physical activity now has a permanent place in APHA, having achieved recognition as a “Section.”

The Physical Activity Section was created first as a Special Primary Interest Group (SPIG) in 2009, but achieved high enough membership that the APHA’s Governing Council awarded it Section status. As such, the section will have a larger presence in APHA’s scientific meetings and throughout its leadership structure.

Additionally, when the APHA’s Governing Council met at this year’s annual meeting, they overwhelmingly agreed to officially endorse the National Physical Activity Plan.


Evidence reported on the benefits of Exercise as a Vital Sign

The first Strategy in the National Physical Activity Plan’s Health Care Sector calls for making physical activity a ‘vital sign’ that all health care providers assess and discuss with their patients. A recent article published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, demonstrates that incorporating physical activity into electronic health records shows considerable promise for improving patient treatment and quality of care.

The study’s lead author Karen J. Coleman said “Embedding questions about physical activity in the electronic health record provides an opportunity to counsel millions of patients during routine medical care regarding the importance of physical activity for health” and “the Exercise Vital Sign has the potential to provide information about the relationship between exercise and health care utilization, cost and chronic disease that has not been previously available,” in an article from Healthcare IT News that highlighted the study.


CDC and National Indian Health Board target physical activity in the workplace

The workplace is well-recognized as a critically important venue for delivering health behavior interventions. For that reason, Strategy # 5 in the National Physical Activity Plan’s Business & Industry Sector is “Develop a plan for monitoring and evaluating worksite health promotion programs. Thanks to the work of researchers at Emory University and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that Strategy is now a reality.

The Worksite Health Score Card is “a tool designed to help employers assess and improve health promotion in their worksites” by “identifying gaps in their health promotion programs, and helping them to prioritize high-impact strategies for health promotion.” The Score Card assesses 13 areas including physical activity, tobacco control, nutrition.

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) will soon release its workplace fitness program GO the EXTRA MILE. The goal of the program is to “create a healthier work environment and promote employee health through providing staff members with thirty paid minutes each work day to go for a walk.” Go the Extra Mile is part of the CEO Pledge, a program of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA). NCPPA is leading the national/federal policy and advocacy efforts for the National Physical Activity Plan.

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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