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Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act Passes through Senate Committee

by Anne Bell | Jul 23, 2014

Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act Passes through Senate Committee

American College of Sports Medicine backs bill designed to improve public health, enable providers

Today the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved unanimously the “Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act.”  The act makes provisions for the review and update of the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), at least every 10 years. The bill is supported by the American College of Sports Medicine and a number of other national organizations and sport governing bodies.

“The act promotes 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,” said Jim Whitehead, CEO of the American College of Sports Medicine. “Regular review and updating of the guidelines takes advantage of the latest science bearing on issues related to physical activity and public health.”

According to HHS, 68 percent of adults and 16.9 percent of children of the United States are obese or overweight. Poor diet and physical inactivity cause more than 400,000 deaths each year, according to the CDC. High rates of obesity underlie disturbing increases in chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease and more. Seventy-five cents of every dollar spent on health care goes toward treating chronic diseases.

"One of the most important things Americans can do to stay healthy is to engage in regular physical activity," said Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the HELP Committee and co-author of the legislation. "The Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act will help ensure that all Americans have access to the information they need to support an active and healthy lifestyle by giving them clear, science-based guidelines on physical activity. We know that people who are physically active tend to live longer and have lower risk for obesity-related chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  Providing accurate, timely and uniform recommendations for physical activity can help communities and families across the country lead longer, healthier lives."

The Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act will:

  • Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to publish a report  that provides physical activity recommendations at least every 10 years based on the latest scientific evidence
  • Midway through each 10-year cycle, a second report would detail evidenced-based practices and highlight continuing issues with respect to physical activity” and “ may focus on a particular group…or on a particular issue relating to physical activity”
  • Help fight the growing obesity epidemic by including separate exercise guidelines for children, individuals with disabilities and other population subgroups, as needed.

The act will also have a significant impact on health care providers. 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.

Now that the act has been passed by the committee, it will next move to the full Senate for vote. The Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act (S. 531/H.R. 2179) was introduced in the Senate by Senator Tom Harkin and Senator Roger Wicker, and a companion bill was introduced in the House by Representative Ron Kind and Representative Aaron Schock.

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Legislation is supported by: Action for Healthy Kids, Active Network, America Walks, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Heart Association, American Kinesiotherapy Association, Association for Applied Sport Psychology, Athletic Republic, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, Campaign to End Obesity Action Fund, Good Sports, Inclusive Fitness Coalition, International Association for Worksite Health Promotion, International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, Medical Fitness Association, MEND Foundation, National Academy of Sports Medicine, National Athletic Trainers' Association, The National Center for Drug Free Sport, National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity,  National Council on Strength and Fitness, National Council of Youth Sports, National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, National Intramural-Recreation Sports Association, National Recreation and Park Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, Inc, Outdoor Industry Association, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, PlayCore, Pop Warner Little Scholars, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, SHAPE America, Shaping America's Health, Sports and Fitness Industry 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.

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