Get Moving with the U.S. National Physical Activity Plan

A new plan to promote exercise.

Sheri Colberg-Ochs By Sheri Colberg-Ochs, PhD

You may not have heard yet about the first-ever U.S. National Physical Activity Plan, but it was just officially launched in May 2010. It had been under development for a couple of years and includes input from many individuals and organizations that congregated in July 2009 in Washington, D.C., to discuss how to develop the plan around 2008 federal exercise guidelines for Americans.

Why has the U.S. been so slow to come up with a unified plan? Other countries (e.g., U.K. and Australia) have tried with varying degrees of success to implement national physical activity plans, as have some of the states in the U.S. individually. The United States has never had a national plan before, maybe because of the size and complexity of our country. One thing is certain: To be really successful, it needs a lot of backing, including yours!

The idea of the Plan came about a couple of years ago when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, along with the U.S. Surgeon General, called upon the U.S. to adopt a national physical activity plan, stating that "the greatest wealth is health" (Virgil). There remains no doubt a sedentary lifestyle increases your risk for developing diseases like type 2 diabetes. Moreover, the costs for treatment of preventable diseases are rising at an alarming rate. The cases of diabetes are expected to double and its treatment costs to triple in the U.S. by 2034. Despite efforts to increase physical activity levels in the population as a whole, it just hasn't happened.

In order to reverse the upward trends of obesity and disease, Americans absolutely must become more physically active. At work, home, school, and other settings, being physically active must be encouraged and made readily available. However, this will not happen without all facets of American culture unifying behind a single plan. Thus, the time is now for the U.S. Plan to be put into action. As stated on the Plan's website, their mission is to develop a national, unified plan that produces a marked and progressive increase in the percentage of Americans who meet physical activity guidelines throughout life. Their goals include things like to provide a clear roadmap for actions, create a social movement, and develop new and innovative strategies for promoting physical activity.

When you think about it, could you honestly say that you would choose going on another medication to treat a disease if you could avoid it? Exercise truly is the best medicine (and a relatively inexpensive one), and the only side effect is usually better health, more energy, enhanced longevity, and an improved mental state. Who can argue with results like that?

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Last Modified Date: February 15, 2013

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