In an ideal world, kids could (safely) cycle to school, get involved in a varied physical education program during school, and play active games after school—well, I did say ideal!
For us adults, perhaps we’d have time to walk, bike or jog to work, go for a leisurely stroll during lunch, and play a round of tennis after work—humph, fat chance!
Well these, and more, are among the goals of The National Physical Activity Plan , released May 3, 2010, by a team of health professionals.
Their purpose? To create an environment in which Americans can be physically active  at home, at work, and at play.
We all know health professionals have been encouraging people to become more physically active for years. But, despite reasonably good efforts, according to the stats, only 31 percent of Americans get enough regular leisure-time physical activity, with around 40 percent doing no regular leisure-time physical activity.
To experience the health benefits of exercise, we need at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity activity per week (e.g., walking) or an hour and fifteen minutes of a vigorous-intensity activity (e.g., jogging). Alternately, you can do a combination of both.
Russell Pate, an exercise researcher who chaired the panel, said this: “Educating, cajoling, and finger-wagging are not enough … it’s difficult to work physical activity into daily life, partly because of sprawling communities and long commutes, and many people don’t have safe and attractive places to walk.”
I can relate. I’ve lived in areas with too much traffic and too few parks to exercise in, and it didn’t inspire me to get outdoors regularly. Right now, though, I’m living in the country, which is wonderful—it actually makes me want to go exercise.
Here are some ideas from the new plan :
- Make sure roadway spending includes money for “complete streets,” accommodating cars, bikes, and pedestrians.
- Have doctors assess patients’ physical-activity levels at appointments and discuss ways they can meet the activity guidelines.
- Encourage early childhood education programs to have little ones as physically active as possible.
- Provide access to and opportunities for physical activity before and after school.
- Encourage school officials to find ways for children to walk and bike safely to school.
- Provide tax breaks for building owners or employers who provide amenities in workplaces that support active commuting, such as showers in buildings, secure bicycle parking, free bicycles, or transit subsidies.
- Increase funding and resources for parks, recreation, fitness and sports programs, and facilities in areas of high need.
What are your thoughts on the plan—will it get people moving?
Do you believe people are overweight as a result of poor facilities in their local area?
If you don’t agree with the above plan, what tips would you give the expert panel if you had the opportunity?
Originally published on Diet-Blog.com