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POLICY CORNER: TAKING IT TO THE HILL
Thompson talks to lawmakers as expert, constituent

Elected officials listen with interest to those who live and vote in their districts. When those constituents bring an armload of professional insight on the issues of the day, their voice is amplified. Thatís the strategy behind having ACSM members discuss physical activity and exercise with Members of Congress, particularly those who are in key committee or leadership positions. Walt Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, recently visited the offices of two Congressmen from his native Georgia, making the case for Exercise is MedicineTM and the American Fitness IndexTM. More

Thompson and ACSM Executive Vice President James R. Whitehead met with Blake Fulenwider, an aide to Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA; ranking member of the Health Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce) and Michael Calvo, senior policy advisor for Rep. Phil Gingrey, M.D. (R-GA). Gingrey serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is a member of the Congressional Fitness Caucus, House Cancer Caucus, and the Coalition for Autism, Research and Education. Both Congressmen are members of the Republican Health Care Solutions group.

Though Reps. Deal and Gingrey serve other districts other than Thompsonís, as a fellow Georgian he had their ear and was warmly received. His deep experience as an exercise physiologist lent credibility to his argument that the preventive benefits of physical activity and exercise should inform discussions about improving the U.S. health care system. Armed with background information, the recently released American Fitness Index 2009 report and an offer to serve as an expert resource, Thompson and Whitehead delivered the ACSM policy message directly to those who can make a difference. Their Capitol Hill visit was facilitated by Lewis-Burke Associates, recently retained to help ACSM develop and enact its public policy initiatives.

To set up a visit with your elected officials, either in their home district or in Washington, please contact Dan Henkel, ACSMís senior director of communication and advocacy, at 317-627-9200, ext. 127 or dhenkel@acsm.org.


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