News and information from the National Physical Activity Plan 06/2014

Global Comparisons of Youth Physical Activity   

Less than a month after the official release of the U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, the results were presented at the first Global Summit on the Physical Activity of Children in Toronto, Canada. Hosted by Active Healthy Kids Canada, the summit brought together research teams from 15 countries across five continents to compare physical activity grades and discuss solutions to childhood inactivity.

Countries participating in the global comparison included: Australia, Canada, Colombia, England, Finland, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nigeria, Scotland, South Africa, and the United States. In order to conduct the global comparison, each country used the Activity Health Kids Canada Report Card framework which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.

The results of the global comparison were shared with over 700 international delegates attending the summit and were also published in a Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Supplemental Issue.

Among the ten grades assigned to U.S., key grades and comparisons include:



U.S. Grade

High Grade


Low Grade


Overall Physical Activity



(Mozambique &  

New Zealand)



Organized Sport Participation



(New Zealand)



Community & Built Environment





(Mexico & Mozambique)

Active Transportation



(Finland, Kenya,  

Mozambique, & Nigeria)


(United States)

Sedentary Behaviors



(Ghana & Kenya)


(Scotland, South Africa & Nigeria)







Notably, there is a large spread in grades among the 10 indicators and 15 countries. In general, however, the grades for physical activity indicators are low across all countries suggesting efforts to improve children’s physical activity levels must be prioritized. Several effective strategies and tactics to improve physical activity among U.S. children have been identified in the National Physical Activity Plan. If successfully implemented, these strategies and tactics can positively impact youth activity levels and increase U.S. Report Card grades.

For a more in depth comparison across counties, review the consolidated findings presented in the special JPAH, Supplemental Issue.


7th Annual American Fitness Index Released 


Last week over 6,000 individuals from over 70 disciplines gathered in Orlando, Florida for the 61st American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual
Meeting and the 5th World Congress on Exercise is Medicine (EIM). The conference, which is the most comprehensive sports medicine and exercise science conference in the world, brought together experts from medicine, exercise physiology, physical activity and public health to discuss recent developments  in the field. Visit the conference webpage for a recap and to review content presented during the meeting.
During this year’s annual meeting, ACSM revealed its 7th annual American Fitness Index (AFI) data report, “Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas.” The report ranked the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas using a composite score of preventive health behaviors, prevalence of chronic disease conditions, and the presences of supportive physical activity community resources and policies. The first place ranking went to Washington, D.C. See how your community ranks and use the NPAP as a guide to improve community resources and policies supporting physical activity in your area.

New ALR Infographic:

Do all kids have a safe place to be active? 

Active Living Research released a new infographic summarizing the evidence presented in a related research synthesis that examined U.S. children’s access to safe places to be physically active.

The findings of the research synthesis showed that children living in poor and/or minority neighborhoods have less access to clean, safe, and attractive places to engage in activity. Drawing from these findings, the infographic highlights several barriers that deter these children from walking, biking, or playing in their neighborhoods.

To address the identified barriers, policies aimed at improving local infrastructure and creating an environment supportive of physical activity should be developed and implemented. To advocate for change, communities can use these resources in combination with the NPAP. The Transportation, Land Use, and Community Design sector of the Plan outlines several strategies and tactics aimed at addressing the barriers identified in the ALR infographic.

Park Prescriptions for Physical Activity:

Innovative Initiatives

Across the U.S., many physicians are prescribing physical activity to their inactive patients. While physical activity prescriptions are becoming a more common practice in the clinical setting, innovative programs are still needed to increase physical activity. Today, we would like to highlight two innovative programs that are promoting physical activity in parks:

1.  A new initiative in Washington D.C. known as Park RX encourages doctors to promote physical activity through park prescriptions. Each prescription aims to improve patient health and calls for patients to increase the amount of time they spends being physically active in parks. The initiative is the result of a collaborative partnership between the local doctors and the National Park Service.

2.  Another initiative in Georgia takes a different approach to get humans and their four-legged companion active in local parks. The Georgia Veterinary Medical Association and Georgia’s State Parks partnered to create the Pets RXercise program, which allows veterinarians to give canine patients a “prescription” to visit a Georgia State Park for free. As exercise buddies, dogs and owners can work together to increase physical activity and reap the numerous health benefits.

Arizona Bill Supports Shared Use

Across the state of Arizona, charter schools are now authorized to open school recreation facilities and equipment to the public outside of school hours thanks to new legislation signed by Governor Jan Brewer. The new bill supports shared use agreements between schools and the communities they serve and acts as a formal agreement that details the terms and conditions for the shared used of public property.

State-level policies such as this align well with the strategies and tactics outlined in the Education sector of the NPAP. In its strategies and tactics, the Plan specifically calls for the development of policies and joint use agreements that will facilitate shared use of physical activity spaces. For more ideas on how to increase physical activity opportunities in your community and schools, visit the NPAP webpage.

U.S. Kids Not Fit for Military Duty?

According to recent evidence, being overweight or obese is the primary reason people cannot join the military with approximately one in five young adults in the U.S. being too heavy to service in our nation’s armed services. The Mission: Readiness program aims to address this problem by helping American youth to stay physically fit as well as to succeed in all aspects of life.

The program’s main objective is to educate policymakers about interventions that better prepare young people for success, with special interest in early childhood education programs, access to healthier food at school, and improving the quality and quantity of Physical Education.

The group has made numerous efforts to improve physical activity among our nation’s youth including advocating for active transportation to schools, better physical education classes, and much more. More recently, the group has announced a new mission focusing tactics to keep U.S. kids slimmer. The Mission: Readiness program aligns well with NPAP strategies and tactics aimed at increasing physical activity among all U.S. kids.

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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