COLUMBIA, SC – February 10, 2009 – The University of South Carolina’s Prevention Research Center is taking the lead in developing a national plan that will encourage Americans to be active every day.
The National Physical Activity Plan, scheduled to be released later this year, will be the focus of a conference July 1 – 2 in Washington, D.C., where policymakers, scientists, healthcare providers and leaders in public health, education, transportation, media, industry and non-profit organizations will contribute input. The university, with initial support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is organizing the groups that will develop and implement the plan.
Dr. Russell Pate, a researcher in the university’s Arnold School of Public Health and a nationally recognized expert on the link between physical activity and health, said the plan will help communities and individuals to make changes necessary for fitness.
“Over the past two decades, scientists and healthcare professionals have worked to understand the role that physical activity has on our health,” said Pate. “Now, we must tackle – as a nation – putting this knowledge into practice.”
Healthcare and personal costs for treating these diseases are rising dramatically, he said, exacerbating an emotional and financial toll on families.
“The time for a national physical activity plan is now,” he said.
Colleen Doyle, director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society, said that these changes would require a major, comprehensive and on-going effort by all facets of society.
“To ensure that Americans are active every day — where they live, work, play and go to school — will require bold action and new and innovative strategies,” she said.
The plan, which follows the release of the 2008 Federal Physical Activity Guidelines, will identify the steps that must be taken by local, state and federal governments, along with communities, corporations and schools, to ensure that children and adults engage in physical activity consistent with the guidelines. Examples include changes in workplace policies, community action to ensure that recreation areas are safe and changes in school physical-activity programs.
“Despite efforts to increase physical activity among children and adults, we have not seen appreciable changes,” said Pate, the university’s vice provost for health sciences and a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine.
“Heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and some types of cancers are linked to physical inactivity. Promoting increased physical activity is one of the great public-health challenges of the 21st century,” he said.
Participating partners with the CDC and the University of South Carolina include the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Dance and Recreation; AARP; the American Cancer Society; Active Living Research; the American College of Sports Medicine; and the American Heart Association.
Registration for the conference is under way. Details are available at the National Physical Activity Plan Web site: www.physicalactivityplan.org.