News and information from the National Physical Activity Plan 07/2014

Surgeon General Addresses Physical Inactivity

 During a special visit to the 61th Annual American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting, U.S. Acting Surgeon General RADM (Rear Admiral) Boris Lushniak boldly delivered a statement that resonated strongly with the physical activity community: “Physical inactivity is the major public health issue in this country.” 

This statement was made following several lively discussions between ACSM members and RADM Lushniak about the crisis of physical inactivity and its substantial impact on the nation’s health, economy, and the well-being of its citizens. See the video below and review the ACSM Sport Medicine Bulletin for more details.

Following the ACSM meeting, RADM Lushniak visited ACSM headquarters in Indianapolis to discuss the issue further. While addressing a group of approximately 60 local health officials and advocates, the Acting Surgeon General again highlighted physical inactivity as America’s major public health issue. He went on to state that we as a nation have to change how we think about and prioritize health.

“If we’re going to survive as a nation, if we’re going to thrive as a nation, we really have to change that focus on sickness and illness to one of health, prevention and wellness,” Lushniak concluded. The NPAP, a strategic plan for increasing physical activity in all segments of the U.S. population, can guide efforts to promote physical activity and health among the American people as promoted by the Acting Surgeon General.

Physical Activity and Nutrition Training  

Needed for Medical Professionals  

All medical students and physicians should receive training in physical activity and nutrition to help combat the growing obesity epidemic in America according to a new white paper released by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the American College of Sport Medicine, and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation at the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on Obesity Solutions in late June.


The paper entitled Teaching Nutrition and Physical Activity in Medical School: training doctors for Prevention-oriented Care points out that current medical training in exercise and nutrition is inadequate to address the nation’s obesity challenges. More importantly, the paper offers several recommendations to address the shortcomings of current medical training in prevention of obesity, specifically physical activity and nutrition promotion.

The infographic on the right highlights several key findings of the paper. Many of recommendations proposed align well with the strategies and tactics outlined in the Health Care sector of the NPAP, which calls for physicians to monitor and promote physical activity among patients.


 Designed To Move Campaign to Fight Physical Inactivity  

In a relatively short period of time, we’ve seen physical activity designed and engineered out of our lives with dramatic, underestimated human, social and economic impacts.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity ranks as one of four major risks to global health and responsible for nearly 10% of all premature deaths in the world, on par with TB, lung cancer, HIV/AIDs, and malaria combined.

Yet, given this body of evidence, and knowledge that physical activity reduces heart disease, blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers and depression by as much as 40%, as societies, we’re still bleeding dollars and lives, with the result an ever-growing epidemic of chronic diseases that have unforgiveable human costs and unsustainable economic costs. Unfortunately, the comprehensive benefits of physical activity, physical education and active play are underestimated and under-valued as a human capital accelerator that increases human potential and performance in a way that no other investment can.

So what to do? NPAPA suggests visiting the Design to Move webpage. Here a physical activity agenda and framework for action are presented, supported by a community of public, private and civil sector organizations dedicated to ending the growing epidemic of physical inactivity. Secondly, we invite NPAPA members to integrate the two basic Designed To Move “asks” into organizational strategies:  1) creating early positive experiences for children, especially those under the age of 10; and 2) integrating physical activity into everyday life.

According to evidence-based research, the first 10 years of life are critical in brain development.  This is the time when children’s foundational movement skills are developed and motivations and preferences are hardwired that can foster a lifelong commitment to physical activity, underscoring the importance of ensuring good quality physical education and positive play experiences. Secondly, if physical activity is used as a baseline for how urban planners and transportation policy-makers think about designing our built environment, we can make physical activity accessible to all, especially to those at greatest risk.    By aligning ourselves against the two “asks”, it also sets the stage for promoting the comprehensive and compounding benefits of physical activity – physiologically, intellectually, socially, emotionally, nutritionally, spiritually, environmentally, and financially –  that underpin the well-being of individuals, organizations, communities, and the socio-economic development and performance of our nation.

By combining expertise, diverse resources and collective commitment around creating early positive experiences for children and integrating physical activity into everyday life, NPAPA creates a common platform to connect advocacy, communications, convening and engagement.  This powerful, but simple framework for action, can unify and strengthen the physical activity field, change the trajectory of our children’s lives, and improve the energy and performance quotient of individuals, organizations, and communities in how we sustainably live, learn, work and play.


New report: Foot Traffic Ahead

Foot Traffic Ahead, a new report released from Smart Growth America, ranks the 30 largest U.S. metropolitan areas on several key dimensions of walkability. Specifically, the report takes into account the amount of commercial development in Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs). It is a product of a collaborative effort between the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at George Washington University School of Business and LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors.

Major report findings included:

  • On average, top ranking metros have 38% higher GDP per capita compared to low ranking metros.
  • 74% higher premium per square foot on rent for office space in urban WalkUPs compared to drivable sub-urban areas.
  • Future projections for up and coming walkable metros

Download the report and see how urban areas in your region compare. For ideas on how to increase walkability in your area, review the Transportation, Land Use, and Community Design sector of the NPAP.


PHYSICAL Act Gains Support

The Promoting Health as Youth Skills in Classrooms and Life (PHYSICAL) Act, which is supported by SHAPE America, recently gained another co-sponsor. Last month, U.S. Senator Chris Coons joined seven other Senators that currently sponsor this legislation, which would designate health and physical education as core subjects in federal education law. The result – these courses would be eligible expenses for federal education funding.

With the release of the U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, it is apparent that efforts to increase children’s overall physical activity (Grade: D) and school-based physical activity (Grade: C-) need to be prioritized. One solution is to emphasize the education of U.S. children in healthful behaviors, such as physical activity, which are critical to their development and success as healthy and productive citizens. Unfortunately, many schools do not provide adequate physical education (PE) or health education, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These subjects are not considered “core” classes and student exposure can be limited due to a lack of funding or administrative priority. The PHYSICAL Act would ensure schools have the option to use federal funds for PE and health education programs as well as teacher professional development. The legislation, if enacted, could translate to sustained or increased student exposure to PE and health courses.

The PHYSICAL Act aligns well with the Education sector of the NPAP, which calls for school to provide access to and opportunities for high-quality, comprehensive physical activity programs, anchored by PE. To encourage your Congress members to support school health and PE ask them to become a PHYSICAL Act co-sponsor here!


Georgia First State to Implement Presidential Youth Fitness Program Statewide

In early June, Shelli Pfohl, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, proudly recognized Georgia as the first state to fully implement the Presidential Youth Fitness Program (PYFP). The PYFP, which was initially launched in September 2012, encourages schools, districts and states to meet criteria that will provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to be active and healthy for a lifetime.

The collaborative effort of Georgia’s government, education department, private organizations, and citizens is encouraging and the NPAPA would like to congratulate Georgia on their efforts to create a healthier generation of children. For more information on how to make your state’s education system more supportive of physical activity, visit the NPAP Education sector and the PYFP.


SPARK ® Celebrates 25 Years

NPAPA would like to congratulate SPARK for its 25th year of program implementation. Effective evidence-based programs like SPARK align well with the strategies and tactics identified in the Education sector of the NPAP, which encourages the implementation of high-quality, comprehensive physical activity programs anchored in physical education.

For a quarter of a century SPARK has been transforming physical education classes and physical activity opportunities for children, adolescents and adults around the world. Specifically, SPARK’s innovative curriculum and unique teaching techniques have proven to be a valuable asset to physical educators and physical activity leaders at the front lines of physical education delivery. The program, which was developed by Dr. Jim Sallis and Dr. Thom McKenzie, has grown exponentially since its introduction in 1989. See the infographic for a brief history of the SPARK program.
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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