News and information from the National Physical Activity Plan 04/2014

How Active is Your County? 

We have become increasingly aware of the influence the environments where we live, work, learn, and play have on our overall health. Along with genetic factors and personal choices, an environment supportive of health-enhancing behaviors such as physical activity can greatly shape health. The release of the 2014 County Health Rankings allow us to see how our environments differ across the nation and the influence they have on our health.

The project is the result of a collaborative effort between of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and depicts how each state and county in the United States compare on 29 factors that influence health, one of which is physical inactivity.

Across the United States, physical inactivity ranged from 10% in some Colorado counties to an estimated 43-45% in several West Virginia counties. In addition to the county rankings, for the first time the report explores national and regional five year trends on five measures, one of which is physical inactivity.

Using surveillance measures such as the Rankings, the NPAPA encourages counties and states to advocate for development of policies and programs that will positively influence engagement in health-enhancing physical activity. Across multiple sectors, the NPAP has identified several key strategies and tactics designed to increase physical activity at the community level.

Check out your counties ranking here and how the NPAP can help to advocate for improvements to the physical activity environment in your community!

Let’s Move Campaign Announces 

After-School Initiative

With over 8 million youth attending after-school programs in the United States, the first lady’s announcement to introduce a broad, five-year initiative to make these programs healthier and more active environments for youth has great potential.

According the first lady, “This is going to make a huge impact – not just on our kids’ health, but on their success in school and in life.”

As part of her initiative, the Boys and Girls Club of America and the National Recreation and Park Association have committed to provide healthy snacks and least 30 minutes of physical activity opportunities during the after-school program.

The new standards will involve approximately 3,400 Boys and Girls Clubs of America and 2,000 National Recreation and Park Association sites – over five million youth will be directly impacted by this commitment. These afterschool providers join the Y.M.C.A. in their effort to create a healthier environment for youth and encouraged other care providers to so the same.

This initiative aligns with the strategies and tactics identified in the NPAP’s Education sector which highlights the potential after-school programs hold to influence the activity levels of millions of children.  

Trends in Physical Education: 

New Tool for Assessment

A new tool from the National Institute of Health allows advocates, policy makers, and researchers to examine state-levels school physical education (PE) and nutrition policies. Specifically, the Classification of Laws Associated with School Students (C.L.A.S.S.) tool monitors and evaluates state-level policy classification systems; one to assess school physical education laws (PERSPCS) and the other to assess nutrition laws (SNESPCS).

Data are currently available from 2003-2012 and can be used to compare PE laws from all 50 states and the District of Columbia against national standards. Ultimately, users can compare differences across states, school grades, and trends over time.

PE-related policy areas covered in C.L.A.S.S. include:

  • PE class time
  • Physical activity (PA) time requirements
  • Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in PE
  • Staffing requirements for PE
  • PE curriculum standards
  • Proficiency requirements in PE
  • Assessment of health-related fitness
  • Recess time
  • Joint use agreement for physical activity
 Utilization of tools such as C.L.A.S.S. are an important component of tracking change in the policy environment over time and identifying areas in which policy development should be prioritized. Regarding the physical education policy environment, C.L.A.S.S. can serve as an assessment tool with the potential to strengthen advocacy efforts supporting the strategies and tactics outlined in the Education sector of the NPAP.

Proposal for Car-free Chicago Streets

A recent proposal advocating for pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly Chicago streets has received mixed reactions. In the proposal, the Active Transportation Alliance called for 20 Chicago streets to be considered for partial or total “pedestrianization.”

“Chicago’s shortage of parks and playgrounds away from the lakefront is well documented,” said Ron Burke, the group’s executive director, “but the city also comes up short for open space in the form of car-free public plazas and streets.”

All 20 locations identified in the proposal were selected by planners and Alliance staff members after input from local community members. The proposal is not the first of its kind. In fact, Times Square in New York City, Navy Pier, and the Pearl Street pedestrian mall in Boulder, Colorado are all pedestrianized sites that served as inspiration for the current proposal.

Ultimately, the civic group believes that these car-free streets and zone have the potential to make spaces more attractive to live and shop which can translate to more biking and walking among residents. The benefits of such a movement are vast and align with strategies and tactics in the Transportation, Land use, and Community Design sector the NPAP.  

AHA Announces Fit-Friendly Worksites

Through their Fit-Friendly Worksite program, the American Heart Association is working to create corporate cultures more supportive of health-enhancing behaviors. With three levels of recognition, any worksite can apply to be designated as a Fit-Friendly work environment.

For the third year in a row, Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota (SHNM) has been recognized as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite. The organization was also recognized as a Community Innovation awardee for their efforts to help employees eat healthier and move more.

To date, 280 worksites nationwide have been designated as a Platinum-Level Fit Friendly worksite.

Platinum-level employers:

  • Offer employees physical activity options in the workplace.
  • Increase healthy eating options at the worksite.
  • Promote a wellness culture in the workplace.
  • Implement at least nine criteria outlined by the American Heart Association in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and culture in the workplace.
  • Demonstrate measurable outcomes related to workplace wellness.

With American employers losing an estimated $225.8 billion a year due to health care expenses and health-related losses in productivity, initiatives encouraging improvements to worksite health promotion are an important component of the NPAP. For strategies and tactics supporting physical activity in the work place, see the Business and Industry sector of the NPAP.

Physical Activity Policies Gain Support 

According to a recent study conducted by Tulane Prevention Research Center and others, a majority of people in the U.S. support local policies encouraging physical activity in work sites, communities, and school.

“This study is the first of its kind to examine on a national level how people view policies related to physical activity and healthy environments,” says Jeanette Gustat, the study’s lead author. “This is particularly important because it can help planners, policymakers and health professionals understand the public’s support for environmental and policy changes.”

The survey was developed by the Physical Activity Policy Research Network, a national research network funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study physical activity policies. Over 1,200 adults participated in the survey which asked questions to gauge support for physical activity policies in a number of settings.

The study’s results can help to inform and tailor policy agendas to better facilitate environmental changes supportive of physical activity. The findings were published in a special issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

National Physical Activity Plan Congress

February 23-24, 2015


Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center,

1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

Upcoming Events & Conferences: 


National Bike to School Day

May 7, 2014


International Society of Behavioral
Nutrition and Physical Activity

May 21-24, 2014 

San Diego, CA


American College of Sports Medicine 

May 28-31, 2014

Orlando, FL



May 14-16, 2014 

Sacramento, CA  

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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here