(May 3, 2010) The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA) is part of a broad coalition of experts to support the Nation’s first Physical Activity Plan, a sweeping initiative to improve public health. The Plan officially launched this morning in 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. Supported by a wide range of public policy recommendations, the Plan is the product of a 10-month, public/private collaboration of experts in diverse fields.
Experts involved with the National Physical Activity Plan said the initiative goes well beyond just telling people to exercise. “We are encouraging a new way of thinking about lifestyle, activity, mobility and general physical fitness,” said Russell Pate, Ph.D., chair of the National Physical Activity Plan. “It’s well established that physical activity brings manifold health benefits, but we need to change people’s behavior. The Plan provides a roadmap for change, addressing everything from the education of health professionals to zoning laws, school policies and workplace wellness programs.”
The Plan is, in part, an answer to America’s alarming rates of adult and childhood obesity and decreasing levels of physical activity. Research has shown that physical activity can help prevent and treat obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease, depression, bone disease, cancer and other diseases. If implemented, measures called for in the National Physical Activity Plan could significantly improve public health, cut health care costs, and reduce health disparities.
Leaders in public health, transportation, education, business and other fields will announce the Plan at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The product of a public/private partnership, the Plan calls for policy, environmental and cultural changes to help all Americans enjoy the health benefits of physical activity. The vision is that all Americans are physically active and live, work, and play in environments that facilitate regular physical activity. The Plan is an ongoing collaboration of scores of nonprofit organizations, corporations and public agencies serving as partners, affiliates and sponsors.
NCPPA is leading the implementation of the plan and providing the central coordination needed for such a collaborative effort. They have been working hard for many months to begin to build the labyrinth of organizations that will turn the strategies in the plan into action. Barry Ford, the NCPPA President shares, “Implementing the policy changes recommended by the plan will help make the choice to be physically active the easy choice. The plan will inspire and guide the decisions of policymakers at every level and in every field, so that being physically active becomes second nature for most Americans.”
NCPPA is working closely with organizations serving as leaders in each of the eight sectors to develop a national implementation plan for immediate action. The partner organizations will help to implement the plan strategies at the national, regional and grassroots levels. According to Ford, NCPPA will work to promote public policy, track results, and launch a cause-related marketing campaign to engage all audiences.
“We are excited to have introduced the Plan to the nation today and now it is time to roll up our sleeves and really get down to work to make this all real for the people” said Sheila Franklin, NCPPA’s Executive Director. “The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA) does not believe that Individual behavior change can be legislated, however implementing policy changes to make communities more conducive to physical activity is a more sustainable choice and one that requires decisions by policymakers at the local, state, and national level.” “The National Plan is full of creative strategies that will increase physical activity opportunities and reduce barriers to physical activity through a myriad of policy changes at all levels.” Franklin continued.
The Plan Process
Pate led a process that identified strategies and tactics for eight key areas of society that have a direct impact on the physical activity levels and health of people in the United States. The eight sectors are Business & Industry, Education, Healthcare, Mass Media, Parks, Recreation, Fitness & Sports, Public Health, Transportation, Urban Design & Community Planning, and Volunteer & Non-Profit Organizations.
The Plan presents a call to action with specific strategies for each sector, for example:
- Education: Develop and implement policies requiring school accountability for quality and quantity of physical education and physical activity
- Health Care: Make physical activity a patient “vital sign” that all health care providers assess and discuss with patients
- Transportation/Planning: Local, state, and federal agencies will use routine performance measures and set benchmarks for active travel (walking, biking, public transit)
- Recreation: Enhance the existing parks and recreation infrastructure with effective policy and environmental changes to promote physical activity.
- Business/Industry: Identify and disseminate best practice models for physical activity in the work place
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Prevention Research Center at the University of South Carolina provided the organizational infrastructure for the Plan. Leaders explained that making a compelling and urgent case for increasing physical activity in the American population entails:
- Providing a clear roadmap increasing Americans’ physical activity in both the short-term and long-term
- Developing strategies for increasing physical activity in all sectors of society and addressing disparities
- Creating a social movement to sustain interest and involvement
- Developing new strategies for promoting physical activity
- Monitoring progress to assess achievements in increasing physical activity
At least 12 states and a number of other countries have enacted physical activity plans, establishing best practices for making physical activity a routine part of daily life. For instance, active transportation is more prominent in some European countries as compared to the United States. Information about the U.S. Plan is available online at www.physicalactivityplan.org