Goal of National Physical Activity Plan is to help Americans become physically active every day

February 17, 2009

The Arnold School’s Prevention Research Center and exercise science experts Russell Pate and Steven Blair are playing key roles in organizing a landmark conference on the National Physical Activity Plan.

Researchers, healthcare professionals and educators across the U.S. are developing the plan to help Americans become physically active every day.

These groups and others will meet July 1-2 at the Westin Washington, D.C. City Center. Registration for the conference will be open through May 15.

Pate is a co-investigator with USC’s PRC and a leading researcher on the link between physical activity and health. He and Blair, also a nationally recognized exercise authority, are members of the coordinating committee for the conference.

PRC director Steve Hooker said the center is helping to support the conference administratively.

“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.

Pate said the healthcare and personal costs for treating these diseases are rising at an alarming rate, and the toll that these diseases take on families is tragic.

“The time for a National Physical Activity Plan is now. Physical inactivity is exacting a toll on our families, and children are at a great risk for long-term health problems if we don’t work as a nation to make changes.”

The National Physical Activity Plan is being created following the release of the 2008 Federal Physical Activity Guidelines.

The plan 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 can and will engage in physical activity consistent with the most recent guidelines.

“Over the past two decades, scientists and healthcare professionals have worked to understand the role that physical activity has for our health,” said Pate. “Now, we must tackle – as a nation – putting this knowledge into practice.”

Participating partners with the University of South Carolina include the CDC; the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance; AARP; the American Cancer Society; Active Living Research; the American College of Sports Medicine; and the American Heart Association.

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