Monday, August 23, 2010

National Physical Activity Plan Provides Roadmap for Community Change

The American Heart Association is one of 15 chairs leading implementation of the National Physical Activity Plan -- an effort to motivate people in every community to become and stay physically active, and to remove the barriers that may stand in their way.

Released this past spring, the Plan focuses on increasing physical activity in places where Americans live, work, learn and play through environmental and policy change. It unites professionals across sectors – in medicine and public health, transportation and urban planning, business, education and recreation – to help individuals integrate physical activity into their daily lives.

“The Plan aims to create a national culture that supports physically active lifestyles. Its ultimate purpose is to improve health, prevent disease and disability, and enhance quality of life,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “Most people know that physical activity is a key to good health. But getting moving is often easier said than done. The National Physical Activity Plan provides a roadmap to help put Americans on the path toward healthy living.”
The Plan is a comprehensive set of policies, programs, and initiatives that aim to increase physical activity in all segments of the American population. The Plan is the product of a private-public sector collaborative. Hundreds of organizations are working together to change our communities in ways that will enable every American to achieve the recommended physical activity levels of 30 minutes per day for adults and 60 minutes for children.

The U.S. National Physical Activity Plan is comprised of recommendations that are organized in eight societal sectors. AHA is a co-leader of the Business and Industry sector of the implementation plan. Components of this part of the plan include:

Identifying and summarizing best practices and model interventions in the workplace, establishing the Plan as an industry leading “go-to” resource, and evaluate effective physical activity interventions in the workplace. The Business and Industry Sector will also develop and implement an integrated communications and outreach plan in order to engage, inform and inspire business and industry leaders to champion physical activity intervention best practices in their own organizations, throughout their industries, and in their local communities and the group will work on developing legislation and policy agendas that promote employer-sponsored physical activity programs while protecting individual employees’ and dependents’ rights. The AHA will also help support strategies in other sectors of the Plan. Communities across the nation are already taking action to make the healthy choice, the easy choice.

The American Heart Association has been driving efforts to increase physical activity in the workplace with the Start! Friendly-Fit Companies program. Now, more employers and workers are creating a healthier environment on the job to improve physical activity with comprehensive workplace wellness programs. Such programs boost productivity and reduce absenteeism and healthcare costs. The Start! program intends to reach out to other communities to start a legacy of physical activity for all Americans.

AHA also supports efforts to boost physical activity among children. The association strongly backs the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act, federal legislation that would ensure children are receiving quality physical education. This policy requires the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to make physical education a priority in the schools’ curriculum. Locally, AHA is aggressively pursuing state policies that would require that children receive physical education as part of a well-rounded curriculum.With more walking and biking paths, comprehensive workplace wellness programs and school and community partnerships, we can build physical activity into the lives of all Americans and dramatically reduce risk factors for chronic diseases. For more information on how to get involved please visit the National Physical Activity Plan web site:

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