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Orgs to Obama: Stress Physical Activity in State of the Union

by Anne Bell | Jan 24, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 24, 2014

Orgs to Obama: Stress Physical Activity in State of the Union

ACSM, others cite cost savings, other benefits

As President Obama and his staff weigh what to emphasize in his fifth State of the Union address, the American College of Sports Medicine and more than 100 other organizations have offered advice in the form of a letter citing physical activity as a way to keep Americans healthy and fit, with numerous other benefits.

The letter said, in part:

As you prepare for your State of the Union address on January 28th, we respectfully request that you dedicate a portion of your address to the benefits and power of physical activity. Physical activity has been shown to reduce health care costs, prevent chronic disease, enhance productivity and improve quality of life. Numerous studies reinforce the common-sense principle of maintaining health through physical activity and exercise and with its ability to treat and prevent obesity, diabetes, heart and bone disease and other chronic conditions, exercise is powerful medicine, indeed.

Noting the success of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative and other programs in stemming the rise in childhood obesity, the signers – representing medical and public health associations, trade groups, sports organizations and industry, among others – urged the president to support:

  • Public education programs to ensure that all Americans understand the benefits of healthy lifestyles and how to take advantage of the range of options open to them;
  • Professional education so that health professionals consider physical activity a vital sign like blood pressure and cholesterol levels, to be monitored and tracked regularly;
  • Electronic Medical Records that include fields for physical activity. As health provider systems convert to EMRs, they can easily begin to track exercise as a vital sign;
  • Medical school curricula that give all physicians an adequate grounding in how to counsel patients on healthy lifestyles, and
  • Increased opportunities for underserved populations to enjoy exercise and physical activity, by addressing disparities in the built environment, access to equipment and other barriers.

 The American College of Sports Medicine has long advocated for physical activity as a public health measure, based on research published in its journals and the experiences of its members who range from clinical physicians to academics, public health leaders and health fitness professionals. ACSM’s signature programs include the Exercise is Medicine® global health initiative and the ACSM American Fitness IndexTM. The College plays a leadership role in numerous coalitions and partnerships, including Designed to Move and Every Body Walk! 

ACSM leaders point out that, with health care costs rising at unsustainable rates, the demonstrated ability of physical activity to prevent and treat chronic disease makes it imperative to help all Americans meet federal physical activity guidelines: 150 minutes per week for healthy adults and 300 minutes per week for children.

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