News and information from the National Physical Activity Plan 04/2013

New Federal Report on Physical Activity Focuses on Promising Opportunities for Improving Health of America’s Youth

In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) established the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which targets all ages of the American population. Now, five years later, HHS has released the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report: Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth. The Midcourse Report targets youth ages 6-17 years and pinpoints interventions that have the potential to increase physical activity across different settings. Specifically, the report “outlines evidence-based recommendations for focusing more efforts on five key settings including:  schools, preschools and childcare centers, community, family and home, and primary care locations.”

“This important new report from the Department of Health and Human Services provides powerful support for the elements of the National Physical Activity Plan that emphasize the critical role that our schools can and should play in providing children with the physical activity they need to be healthy and fit.” -Russell Pate, PhD, President, National Physical Activity Plan Alliance.

 Help Suppot Physical Activity Guidelines For Americans Act

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act of 2013 is a new bipartisan bill recently introduced by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS). This new bill is “based on the physical activity guidelines provisions in Harkin’s comprehensive wellness bill, the Healthier Lifestyles and Prevention America (HeLP America) Act.” It came just a few days after the release of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report: Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth, which was established from the need to document evidence-based strategies and to suggest steps to change and increase physical activity patterns in youth.

The new bill will require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to update and administer physical activity guidelines for Americans of all ages at least every ten years. In addition to assessing the guidelines, there will be a “midcourse” report required every five years that will feature specific groups, interests, issues, and practices.

One of the key recommendations from the National Physical Activity Plan’s (NPAP) Public Health Sector is regular updating of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Furthermore, the essential purpose of the NPAP is to create environments that support regular physical activity so that the vast majority of Americans meet or exceed the Federal Physical Activity Guidelines. Therefore, the NPAP applauds the work of senators Harkin and Wicker and asks that you contact your elected officials to let them know that you want them to support the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act of 2013.
Take a moment to ask your senators to co-sponsor this important legislation.


Fire Up Your Feet Launches Nationally to Encourage Healthy, Active Schools

“Fire Up Your Feet” is a new program that is reaching out to increase physical activity in youth. The project is driven by Kaiser Permanente, National PTA, and Safe Routes to School National Partnership and is supported by First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative “Let’s Move Active Schools.”

This program targets many strategies and tactics from National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP). Two sectors in particular, Education and Transportation, Land Use, and Community Design, have strategies that will be directly addressed by the Fire Up Your Feet Program.

Fire Up Your Feet’s purpose is to help fight the epidemic of childhood obesity by getting schools and families involved. Many of the activities occur during the school day and are tailored to reach different ages and education levels of students. It motivates families, students and teachers to exercise, provides ways to win rewards, and “gives inspiration for schools and families to walk more, play more, and improve their overall health and wellness.”


First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Unprecedented Collaboration to Bring Physical Activity Back to Schools

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that youth get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day, yet only 1 in 3 children is active on a daily basis and only 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools and 2% of high schools offer daily physical education.

First Lady Michelle Obama,  The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports &Nutrition (PCFSN), the American Alliance for Health,  Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (AAHPERD), and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation are working together to guide the development and implementation of an evidence-based program called “Let’s Move! Active Schools”, aimed at increasing physical activity in schools.

Over the next five years, First Lady Michelle Obama is encouraging more than 50,000 schools to sign up at to help students get active and exercising, set ambitious goals, and begin fighting obesity. Let’s Move! Active Schools combines constructs from current programs and uses new resources to customize the program to fit different schools. It encourages physical activity before, during and after school and provides guidance along an easy, six-step process. The program also offers “access to free tools and resources, including in-person trainings, program activation grants, and direct, personal assistance from certified professionals.”

This initiative represents implementation of core recommendations found in the National Physical Activity Plan’s Education Sector. One strategy is to increase access and opportunities for safe, inclusive, educational, and culturally appropriate physical activity programs (Strategy 1, Education Sector). Another strategy is to provide physical activity before and after school (Strategy 5, Education Sector).


RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize: Improving Health at the Population Level

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded six outstanding communities with a newly launched award named the RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize. This award recognizes communities that are taking actions to promote healthy lifestyles and it provides $25,000 to further their goals toward improved health. It also aims to promote the work of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program. The purpose of this program is to educate stakeholders on different factors that contribute to community health and to solve problems that will result in improved health.

“Prize winners were chosen because of their innovative strategies for population-level changes: policy and environmental improvements that enable people to make healthier choices.” Many of the cities and towns are researching and creating new ways to improve health and quality of life. The following winning communities received the Roadmaps to Health Prize.

  • Cambridge, Massachusetts: Improving Health Equity
  • Fall River, Massachusetts: Cross-Sector Partnerships
  • Manistique, Michigan: Encouraging Healthy Choices
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: More than 40 Community Organizations, Working Together
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: Prevention-Based Change
  • Santa Cruz County, California: A Focus on Youth


American Institute of Architects to focus on Physical Activity at June Conference

The American Institute for Architects (AIA) New York Chapter and the New York City Department of Health and Human Hygiene are hosting their eighth annual public conference that will touch on many topics related to the strategies and tactics from the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP).   The main focus of the conference is to “examine how design of the built environment can create opportunities for increasing physical activity and access to healthier food and beverages.”

There will be a diverse group of representatives present at the conference ranging from architects and planners to developers and public health professionals. The main talking point will be addressing environmental factors that play a role in increasing the nation-wide epidemic of obesity and chronic-related diseases. These key representatives will discuss how design, policy, and practice decisions can be tweaked and changed to positively impact the lives of Americans.

ChildObesity180 Announces $1 Million in Grants To Revolutionize School Physical Activity

ChildObesity180, an organization committed to lowering childhood obesity in America, announced a new initiative called the  Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP). This project has $1,000,000 in grant money that will be presented to 1,000 schools. The awarded schools will use this money to implement one of three accessible and innovative physical activity programs. The three choices of programs are 100 Mile Club, BOKS, and CHALK/Just Move.

100 Mile club challenges elementary school students to walk, jog or run 100 miles over the calendar school year. Students are able to log miles before or after school, during recess, or at approved community events. BOKS is a program that is tailored to get kids active before school through aerobic activities and team competitions. CHALK/Just Move is a program that happens in the classroom and aims to get kids out of their chairs and moving during class time.

This initiative aligns with the many of the recommendations from the National Physical Activity Plan’s (NPAP) Education Sector. Those recommendations aim to increase physical activity in schools through: Providing access and opportunities for physical activity in safe and developed areas; Making exercise available before, during and after school; and Establishing partnerships with the community to increase youth physical activity.

First Lady Michelle Obama is a standing supporter of this initiative and is encouraging schools to apply through her “Let’s Move! Active Schools.” ASAP applications will be accepted from February 28 through April 22, 2013.

Oklahoma City Public Schools looks to update wellness policy

The Oklahoma City Public School Board knows how important it is for students to exercise every single day, and is taking small steps to increase the availability of physical activity to their students. The original district wellness policy was established in 2006, and in 2010 a committee meeting was held to discuss needed updates. Now in 2013, the policy proposed is more lengthy and comprehensive, and “adds stipulations about everything from school lunches to recess time.” Some of the physical activity-specific components of the proposed policy include:

  • Elementary school students will have at least an hour of P.E. and an hour of health and wellness education each week.
  • A district wellness committee of students, staff and community members will track progress throughout the district.
  • Physical activity, such as doing pushups or running laps, can’t be used as punishment, and recess and gym class can’t be withheld for students as punishment.
  • The policy also reiterates the need for healthy food, an echo of federal guideline changes that require schools to trim salt and fat and boost offerings of fruits and vegetables.

Enactment of this policy would represent the implementation of the The National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) at the local level. Specifically, this policy addresses several strategies from the NPAP’s Education Sector, including the need to “report on the quality and quantity of physical education and physical activity programs.”

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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