Wednesday, May 5, 2010

National Physical Activity Plan Introduced

National Physical Activity Plan Introduced
May 4, 2010 4:31 PM, By Stephanie Bloyd, senior associate editor

WASHINGTON, DC -- Certification and continuing education programs for fitness instructors and personal trainers are some of the recommendations in a multifaceted plan to increase physical activity among Americans that was introduced to members of Congress on Monday.

The plan, called the National Physical Activity Plan, calls for all-encompassing actions to address the country’s obesity epidemic. Suggested strategies include putting physical education classes back in schools and developing funding streams for nonprofit, parks and recreation, and sports facilities.

The product of a public/private partnership, the plan calls for policy, environmental and cultural changes across eight areas: parks, recreation, fitness and sports; health care; public health; education; business and industry; mass media; transportation, land use and community design; volunteer and nonprofit.

In addition to encouraging physical activity programs for kids in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, the plan calls for state and federal funding to ensure post-secondary institutions have the resources, such as gym equipment and facilities, to provide adequate physical activity programming.

The National Physical Activity Plan has a number of partners, including the American College of Sports Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Heart Association, the YMCA of the USA and the American Medical Association.

The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) also expressed its support for the plan and will serve as co-chair of its National Implementation Team for Business and Industry.

“It’s imperative that we counter the negative transformation that we have seen in America’s health over the last 30 years as a result of sedentary lifestyles,” Joe Moore, IHRSA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Bringing about behavior change within an entire culture and society requires a sweeping initiative that approaches the problem from multiple angles. This plan gives us a framework and is the springboard from which we can make lasting societal changes that increase movement in America.”

Following the plan’s debut on Monday, the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity will lead its implementation, working with the organizations designated to coordinate teams focused on each of the plan’s eight areas.

“This is a national initiative that goes well beyond just telling people to exercise. We are recommending policies, programs and initiatives that will change our communities in ways that enable all Americans to be physically active,” Russell Pate, Ph.D., chair of the National Physical Activity Plan, said in a statement. “Successfully implementing the plan will depend, in large part, on the willingness of leaders at every level to enact the kinds of changes that will encourage and allow people to become more physically active. Currently, there are too many barriers to active lifestyles, and too many Americans are left behind.”