Physical Activity: Health Outcomes and Importance for Public Health Policy

This brief summary of evidence of benefits from being physically active reveals that national surveillance data indicate a substantial portion of youth and adults in the United States do not meet recommendations.

  • Available data indicate that various race and ethnic minorities, persons of very low income and those with mental or physical disabilities have even more to gain from increases in physical activity as they are among the least active in the population, but have limited access to needed resources.
  • To realize the health-promoting benefits of increased activity by at-risk populations, major policies and programs need implementing that ensure:
    • the population at-large is educated about the health risks of inactivity and how best to reduce these risks,
    • lifestyle changes, including increases in physical activity, for chronic disease prevention and health promotion be given higher priority and increased funding by the US health care system,
    • schools at all levels enhance opportunities for students to be appropriately active,
    • employers develop ways to engineer physical activity back into the work day of sedentary employees while not decreasing worker productivity, and
    • the built environment throughout the community is made activity friendly for a greater portion of the population.

Haskell, William L., Blair, Steven N., and Hill, James O. “Physical Activity: Health outcomes and importance for public health policy.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 49 (2009): 280-282.

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