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The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act S. 531/H.R. 2179

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The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act S. 531/H.R. 2179

•    One of the gravest health challenges facing our nation is the rising prevalence of obesity and physical inactivity in the U.S. population.  

•    Studies by the Department of Health and Human Services indicate that 68 percent of adults and 16.9 percent of children of the United States are obese or overweight and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that poor diet and physical inactivity cause over 400,000 deaths each year. 

•    The link between the rise in obesity and ballooning increases in health care spending could not be more apparent. High rates of obesity underlie disturbing increases in chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and more.

•    For every dollar that is spent on health care, 75 percent goes towards treating chronic diseases. 

•    One common-sense way to combat obesity and rising health care costs is to promote physical activity by ensuring that Americans of every age and physical aptitude – and their health care providers – are well informed about the types and amounts of physical activity that people should perform to gain important health benefits.

•    The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were designed to provide information and guidance on the types and amounts of physical activity that provide substantial health benefits for Americans aged 6 years and older.

•    The current Federal guidelines were first issued in 2008 and no regular administrative process exists for subsequent revisions. 

•    The rapidly evolving nature of our scientific understanding of the benefits of physical activity requires that these guidelines be updated at least every 10 years.

•    The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act (S. 531/H.R. 2179) was introduced in the Senate by Senator Harkin and Senator Wicker and it was introduced in the House by Representative Kind and Representative Schock.


The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act will:

•    Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to publish a report called “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans” at least every ten years based on the latest scientific evidence;
•    Midway through each ten year cycle, a second report would highlight “best practices and continuing issues in the physical activity arena, which may focus on a particular group…or a particular issue relating to the physical activity of Americans.”
•    Help fight the growing obesity epidemic by recommending separate exercise guidelines for children, adults, seniors and people with disabilities;
•    Require federal agencies to promote the guidelines when carrying out any federal health program.


Legislation is supported by: Active Network, American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, American Kinesiotherapy Association, Association for Applied Sport Psychology, Athletic Republic, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, Medical Fitness Association, National Association for Sport and Physical Education, National Athletic Trainers' Association, The National Center for Drug Free Sport, National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, National Recreation and Park Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, Inc, Outdoor Industry Association, Pop Warner Little Scholars, Shaping America's Health, Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, Sport Information Resource Centre, U.S. Tennis Association, USA Canoe/Kayak, USA Curling, USA Diving, USA Fencing, USA Judo, USA Luge, USA Roller Sports, USA Rugby, USA Squash, USA Track & Field, Women's Sport Foundation, YMCA of USA

Frequently Asked Questions About the Federal Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans:

What is the benefit of revising these guidelines?

Regular review and updating of the Guidelines takes advantage of the latest science bearing on issues related to physical activity and health. This is important given the impact physical activity has on numerous chronic diseases (e.g., heart disease, type 2 diabetes, etc.), and its role in the prevention of weight gain that leads to overweight and obesity. Identification and promotion of new and proven approaches to increase participation in physical activity by all Americans is consistent with the emphasis on disease prevention. Furthermore, it underscores and demonstrates the commitment of the federal government to promote public health through successful physical activity programs at in schools, communities and workplace settings. Finally, the 2008 U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines have shaped physical activity and exercise recommendations not only in the U. S., but also across the world. Regular updates of these Guidelines will help maintain this leadership role.

What scientific changes can be expected in the revised guidelines?

The revision process includes a thorough review of research published since the original Guidelines were published. Topics likely to be changed by significant new findings include:
•    The role of physical activity and exercise in preventing and treating chronic diseases.
•    Dose/response considerations (i.e., how much physical activity is needed to achieve desired health outcomes such as preventing weight gain over time, reducing the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, etc.)
•    Effects of physical activity and exercise on metabolism and weight management in already overweight and obese individuals
•    Impact of physical activity programming on children and older adults.
•    Ways to reduce risks associated with doing physical activity and exercise
 
How will they be used by health care providers?

With a growing understanding of the manifold health benefits of physical activity and exercise, health care providers in the United States and worldwide are prescribing activity for their patients, both to prevent and treat a wide variety of chronic diseases. Up-to-date federal Guidelines allow physicians and other health care providers to make recommendations based on the latest science and evidence. The Guidelines are a foundation document and an essential tool for everything from community health programs to educational curricula to the National Physical Activity Plan.

To view a copy of the bill, click here.

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