State Physical Activity Plans

State-level physical activity planning in the United States: A Report to National Physical Activity Plan Alliance

The aim of the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) is to foster a national culture of physical activity that will improve the health of Americans, and one of the overarching priorities of the NPAP is to “support development and implementation of comprehensive physical activity strategic plans at the state, regional, and community levels.” Using the evidence-informed NPAP as a blueprint, states are called to develop stand-alone state-specific physical activity plans that includes context-specific strategies and tactics for all sectors to take a role in physical activity promotion. Prior to this project, the number of states with public health plans that include physical activity and the extent to which those plans align with the NPAP priorities and the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans was unknown.


The purpose of this report is to describe the scope in which physical activity is incorporated in state-level public health plans in the United States, with an emphasis on alignment with the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and the NPAP. The report also includes recommendations for actions to the NPAP Alliance.


A standardized internet search strategy was developed and conducted between May 2017 and January 2018 of each of 50 US states and the District of Columbia to determine the prevalence and characteristics of state-level public health plans that include physical activity. Searches were conducted using the Google search engine utilizing search terms such as “[state] physical activity plan,” “[state] obesity plan,” and “[state] chronic disease plan” for the initial selection of planning documents for review. Plans were excluded if they did not include physical activity, were not directed at the state level, were considered drafts or unpublished versions, or were duplicate publications. Following this process, full copies of plans were retrieved and further assessed for identification of priority population, overall alignment with the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, congruency to each of the NPAP nine societal sectors, and alignment with the NPAP strategies.

Key Results

At the time of data collection, physical activity was a part of 245 health-planning documents in 51 U.S. states and territories. Only 2 public health plans (<1% of documents reviewed) were stand-alone physical activity plans.

View state-level data tables

Alabama – Kansas
Kentucky – North Carolina
North Dakota – Wyoming

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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