We All Need to Move More
Back in 2010, select public and private organizations banded together to create the first version of the National Physical Activity Plan, an extensive outline that was supposed to help people move more. It recommended that kids in school be allowed and encouraged to engage in daily physical activity (recommending more physical education classes), that businesses find ways to help employees to get up and move and limit sitting time, and it also provided recommendations to build and promote parks, bike riding paths and places where people could safely engage in more physical activity.
Organizations in this alliance included the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Despite the plan and effort, obesity rates have continued to climb and no noticeable and measurable difference has been identified in people’s physical activity habits. Right now, only eight states require daily recess and only two states mandate 30 minutes of physical exercise in school daily. It should be noted that “30 minutes daily” is the minimum desirable level of activity in a young student’s life.
Another CDC data set recently revealed that only about 20% of adults in the U.S. meet minimal exercise standards (150 minutes of aerobic and strength training), and minority groups meet even lower rates. A recently published study revealed that only 3% of adults in the U.S. follow a truly healthy lifestyle, not smoking or drinking, exercising regularly, eating fruits and vegetables, and maintaining a healthy weight.
In light of these depressing findings, the alliance has re-vamped their guidelines and released a new set of guidelines called the New National Physical Activity Plan. This plan has updated goals, focuses on minorities, and also offers many more strategies to help people to access more physical activity opportunities. A recent New York Times blog interviewed Russelll Pate, chairman of the new plan. He offered some insights on some of the challenges standing in the way of exercise:
• Elevators have replaced stairs.
• We drive everywhere.
• Being active these days actually requires commitment
• Single working parents are especially over-extended and unable to schedule personal exercise time
Professor Pate also suggested that we need to understand that any movement is good. Fitting walking into your day may not be equivalent to vigorous activity, but it is a healthy habit with numerous health benefits. He also pointed out that lifestyle education is crucial, and the newly revised activity plan includes science-based recommendations. It has templates for schools, sections for parents, and the guide recommends that parents present these guidelines directly to the schools their children attend.
Professor Pate indicated that we need to be optimistic despite current obesity statistics. Most people want to live healthier lives but they do need access to affordable, accessible lifestyle options that fit their lives. The bottom line is that we all need to move more. We need to be smart and find ways to sneak movement into every day of our lives. Our kids need to move more and so do we.
Also read: Debunking Obesity Myths