May 4, 2010

Bold New National Fitness Plan Announced

New state and district policies requiring schools to report on the quantity and quality of the student's physical education programs and the classification of physical inactivity as a preventable and treatable health condition are two of the provisions of a new national fitness agenda announced Monday.

The U.S. National Physical Activity Plan was launched by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, representatives of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, American Heart Association, American College of Sports Medicine and other organizations It also calls for additional research into ways to educate and motivate people to exercise more and increased physical activity education for health care professionals.

Furthermore, it declares a person's physical activity level a vital sign, akin to heart rate and blood pressure, and promises the payment of bonuses to doctors who diagnose patients with physical inactivity, according to a May 3 Reuters report.

"The U.S. National Physical Activity Plan has a vision," says the program's official website. "One day, all Americans will be physically active and they will live, work, and play in environments that facilitate regular physical activity"¦ Its ultimate purpose is to improve health, prevent disease and disability, and enhance quality of life."

"Americans need a motivational push from all sectors of society to get on their feet and reverse a growing trend of physical inactivity," American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement on Monday. "Routine physical activity can be safe and beneficial for all Americans, reducing their risk for heart disease, stroke and other chronic illnesses and improving overall quality of life.  Unfortunately, nearly a quarter of the U.S. population does not participate in any physical activities."

According to USA Today's Nanci Hellmich, just 31-percent of people in the U.S. complete government-recommended levels of physical activity during their leisure time, while 40-percent do no regular physical activity. In comparison, Reuters reports that approximately two out of every three adults and one out of every three children living in the U.S. are classified as overweight or obese.


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