About the Plan
VISION AND BACKGROUND
The U.S. National Physical Activity Plan is based on a vision: One day, all Americans will be physically active, and they will live, work and play in environments that encourage and support regular physical activity.
The Plan is a comprehensive set of policies, programs, and initiatives designed to increase physical activity in all segments of the U.S. population. The Plan aims to foster a national culture that supports physically active lifestyles. Its ultimate purpose is to improve health, prevent disease and disability, and enhance quality of life.
The Plan was developed by a coalition of organizations that came together to form the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance. The Alliance is a non-profit organization committed to developing the Plan and taking actions that will enhance its effect on physical activity in the U.S. population.
The 2016 Plan builds on the first U.S. National Physical Activity Plan, which was released in 2010. Like the original Plan, the 2016 Plan was developed through a process that engaged hundreds of professionals, researchers, and leaders from public and private organizations. These individuals contributed to the work of nine Expert Panels, each of which focused on one societal sector. These nine sectors – Business and Industry; Community Recreation, Fitness and Parks; Education; Faith-Based Settings; Healthcare; Mass Media; Public Health; Sport; and Transportation, Land Use and Community Design – provide the organizational framework for the Plan. Each Expert Panel reviewed the 2010 Plan and recommended enhancements, refinements, and additions to the Strategies and Tactics that comprise the core content for its sector.
The Expert Panels’ work was informed by public comment, which was solicited at the beginning of the revision process, during a National Summit in 2015, and after a draft of the revised plan was released in early 2016. A Revision Executive Committee oversaw the process of producing the current Plan. Ultimately, the Plan is the responsibility of the Board of Directors of the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance, which approved this revised Plan prior to its release in April, 2016.
ORGANIZATION OF THE NATIONAL PLAN
The Plan is comprised of Overarching Priorities and Strategies and Tactics for each of the nine societal sectors.
Overarching Priorities – A set of initiatives that the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance views as critical to moving the physical activity and public health field forward and accomplishing the overall goal of increasing physical activity in the U.S. population. These priorities are relevant to all components of the Plan.
Strategies and Tactics for the Societal Sectors – Specific evidence-informed approaches designed to promote physical activity through actions taken in each of nine societal sectors. Strategies are broad approaches, to be achieved through implementation of specific tactics. The National Physical Activity Plan is comprised of recommendations that are organized in nine societal sectors:
- Business and Industry
- Community, Recreation, Fitness, and Parks
- Faith-Based Settings
- Mass Media
- Public Health
- Transportation, Land Use, and Community Design
Each sector presents strategies aimed at promoting physical activity. Each strategy also outlines specific tactics that communities, organizations and agencies, and individuals can use to address the strategy. Recognizing that some strategies encompass multiple sectors, the Plan also has several overarching priorities.
In developing the content of the Plan, the Expert Panels and Revision Executive Committee applied the following guiding principles:
The Plan is grounded in a socio-ecological model of health behavior. This model holds that physical activity behavior is influenced by a broad constellation of factors operating at the personal, family, institutional, community and policy levels. Sustainable behavior change is most likely when influences at all the levels are aligned to support change.
The Plan consists of initiatives that are supported by evidence of effectiveness. Levels of evidence range from findings of controlled research studies to best practice models.
The Plan includes recommendations for actions at the national, state, local and institutional levels, but fundamentally it is a roadmap for change at the community level that facilitates personal behavior change.
Although reduction of time spent in sedentary behavior is recognized as a worthy goal, the Plan focuses on strategies for increasing the types and amounts of physical activity recommended by current public health guidelines.
The National Physical Activity Plan is intended to be a “living document” that is updated on a regular basis. Each edition of the Plan will be informed by new knowledge, some of which will be the product of evolving professional practice. But a growing body of knowledge, fed by an expanding physical activity–public health research enterprise, will be needed too. Accordingly, the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance calls on public, non-profit and private research funding agencies to make greater investments in research that will generate the knowledge needed to increase physical activity in communities across the U.S.
In order to increase physical activity in all segments of the U.S. population, the Alliance recognizes that the Plan must address the substantial disparities in physical activity that exist across groups based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, physical, cognitive or sensory ability, and geography. Further, the Alliance recognizes the remarkable diversity of the American population and has been committed to producing a Plan that will encourage persons of all religious, cultural, ideological, sexual orientation, and gender identity groups to become more physically active. Toward this end, the Alliance formed a Diversity Committee that played a central role in developing the Plan and ensuring that the needs of a diverse population were incorporated. An overriding goal has been to produce a Plan that, as a whole and in its many elements, is inclusive of all segments of the American population.
The goal of the National Physical Activity Plan is to increase physical activity in the U.S. population. For the Plan to succeed, many people and groups will need to play a role in implementing it. Individuals can educate leaders in all sectors and encourage them to adopt elements of the Plan. Organizations can take leadership roles in implementing the Plan’s strategies and tactics at the community, state or national level. And government agencies at all levels can take actions that promote physical activity and create environments that support it. No single, central organization is responsible for implementing the Plan or providing the funding that will be needed. Instead, it will be the American people, working as individuals or through their organizations or government entities, who put the Plan’s strategies and tactics to work in ways that benefit everyone.
View the National Physical Activity Plan here!