National Physical Activity Plan is Off and Running

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Parks and Recreation to Help Lead National Coalition Fight for Fitness and Health.

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With the launch of the National Physical Activity Plan, our communities can harness our collective power and provide both increased space and opportunities for physical activity and recreation.

Leaders of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) have joined a broad coalition of experts to support the National Physical Activity Plan, a sweeping initiative to improve public health. The Plan, which officially launched this morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., outlines strategies for motivating people in every community to become and stay physically active and to remove the barriers that may stand in their way.

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. 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.

NRPA seeks to engage Americans in healthy, active lifestyles through physical activity, healthy habits, recreation, and an appreciation for and connection to the outdoors. NRPA co-chaired the Parks, Recreation, Fitness and Sports section of the National Physical Activity Plan, and worked in collaboration with other national organizations for its drafting. In addition, NRPA is a member of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA), which has been charged with leading the implementation of the plan.

Barry Ford, the NCPPA president, shared, “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.”

NRPA is co-leading Strategy Four of the Plan, which aims to “Increase funding and resources for parks, recreation, fitness and sports in areas of high need.”

“Parks and recreation centers are essential to providing safe, close-to-home opportunities for Americans to stay physically active and lead healthy lifestyles,” said Barbara Tulipane, CEO of NRPA. “With the launch of the National Physical Activity Plan, our communities can harness our collective power and provide both increased space and opportunities for physical activity and recreation. This will move our nation closer to both the Administration’s and NRPA’s goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation and combating chronic disease in adults.”

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 and exercise 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.

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

For more information about NRPA and the role of parks and recreation in the National Physical Activity Plan, contact Stacey Pine at 202.887.0290 or spine(at)nrpa(dot)org. For more information on the Plan, go to http://www.physicalactivityplan.org.

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of roughly 21,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy lifestyles, recreation initiatives, and conservation of natural and cultural resources.

For more information, visit http://www.NRPA.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit http://www.parksandrec-magazine.org.

MORE INFORMATION – NATIONAL PHYSICAL ACTIVITY PLAN

Implementation
NCPPA is working closely with organizations serving as leaders in each of the eight sectors to develop a national implementation plan for immediate action. NRPA and other 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.

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 and Industry; Education; Healthcare; Mass Media; Parks, Recreation, Fitness and Sports; Public Health; Transportation, Urban Design and Community Planning; and, Volunteer and Non-Profit Organizations.

Background
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 http://www.physicalactivityplan.org.

Media Contacts:
Amy Kapp, NRPA
703.858.2151

Dan Henkel, ACSM
317.446.2666

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Dan Henkel
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