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Physical activity task force releases 18-year plan to transform US health culture

The task force isn’t just presenting recommendations, it's presenting what amounts to a highly invitational, inclusive, and fairly detailed plan of attack for bringing communities and healthcare into alignment
– Jenny Bogard, director of healthcare strategies, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

A US physical activity task force has released an 18-year strategy aiming to transform the country’s culture by integrating exercise into the healthcare setting.

Formed two years ago, the Prescription for Activity Task Force, which consists of more than 65 national experts in healthcare, academia, business, nonprofit and government, was assigned to come up with behaviour-change interventions in getting more people active. The objective is to help reduce the prevalence of inactivity-related diseases

The group, which includes Anytime Fitness chief executive Chuck Runyon, has released a plan, in the form a white paper, to get 50 per cent of Americans achieving recommended levels of physical activity by 2035. It says this can be achieved through a series of incremental outcomes over the next 18 years.

The 61-page paper says individuals who fail to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week have a 20 to 30 per cent increased risk of premature death compared to those who meet guidelines.

The plan features three core paths:

1. Care delivery: assessing, prescribing, and tracking physical activity as a path to enhanced patient outcomes.

2. Community: recruiting communities to make physical activity a priority and a source of fun, enjoyment and socialisation.

3. Clinic-community integration: building a bridge of trust and collaboration between healthcare providers and community resources to encourage physical activity.

These three core paths are bolstered by four supporting areas: education and training; funding and payment; informatics; and communications.

As part of the plan, healthcare providers would routinely assess physical-activity levels, encourage exercise among their patients, counsel on its necessity and then refer patients to community partners to help them become physically active.

Health and fitness providers would then track and assess patients and adjust care plans accordingly.

“The task force isn’t just presenting recommendations,” said Jenny Bogard, director of healthcare strategies at Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “It's presenting what amounts to a highly invitational, inclusive, and fairly detailed plan of attack for bringing communities and healthcare into alignment in the name of evolving US culture to one that puts physical activity first.”

The white paper contains a call to action at local, state and national level for key players in healthcare delivery, infrastructure, policy, disease prevention, health investment and practitioners in communities to join an initiative to implement the plan.

To access the white paper click here.

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