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POLICY CORNER: HEALTHY PEOPLE 2020: HELPING DEFINE U.S. GOALS

As a crucial part of the scientific and physical activity community, ACSM members are encouraged to help shape the direction of the Healthy People 2020 objectives. Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year, national objectives for promoting health and preventing disease. Healthy People 2020 will reflect assessments of major risks to health and wellness, changing public health priorities, and emerging issues related to our nation's health preparedness and prevention. Those wishing to comment may submit online through Dec. 31. Responses may comment on existing objectives or propose new ones. Former ACSM President Angela Smith, M.D., FACSM, recently gave testimony at a public meeting on the objectives. ACSM members can use Dr. Smith's remarks to formulate their own comments for the HP 2020 online objectives.

The Healthy People 2020 process remains on track, with an anticipated roll-out date of early 2010. Release likely will coincide with the President’s fiscal year 2011 budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services. Soliciting input from the public, the HHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2020 has held fifteen meetings since January 2008. The next meeting is a Dec. 11 Webcast open to the public. The Committee’s activities have accelerated with the release of the 2020 draft objectives in a 214-page document posted here. The draft contains 38 priority areas, of which “Physical Activity and Fitness” is the one most central to ACSM’s interests. While sports medicine is certainly germane to many of the other 37 topical objectives, ACSM can most effectively weigh in on the activity and fitness topic.

Five Physical Activity and Fitness objectives are retained as-is from Healthy People 2010:

(1) reduce the proportion of adults who engage in no leisure-time physical activity;
(2) increase the proportion of the nation’s public and private schools that require daily physical education for all students;
(3) increase the proportion of adolescents who participate in daily school physical education;
(4) increase the proportion of adolescents who spend at least 50 percent of school physical education class time being physically active, and
(5) increase the proportion of the nation’s public and private schools that provide access to their physical activity spaces and facilities for all persons outside of normal school hours.

Some Objectives Modified for 2020

While the above objectives align closely with ACSM’s mission, the sixth and seventh objectives converge on key roles that ACSM members play in health and fitness. These statements have been substantially modified from the 2010 goals to more precisely describe how to benchmark the intent to:

(6) increase the proportion of adults that meet current federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic physical activity and for muscle strength training and
(7) increase the proportion of adolescents that meet current physical activity guidelines for aerobic physical activity and for muscle-strengthening activity.

Other modified objectives are to:

(8) increase the proportion of children and adolescents that meet guidelines for television viewing and computer use;
(9) increase proportion of employed adults who have access to and participate in employer-based exercise facilities and exercise programs, and
(10) increase the proportion of trips made by walking, and
(11) by bicycling.

Two new objectives address school recess periods:

(12) increase the proportion of states and school districts that require regularly scheduled elementary school recess, and
(13) recommend elementary school recess for an appropriate period of time.

Objective: Counseling on Exercise
A 14th objective states the goal of increasing the proportion of physician office visits for chronic health diseases or conditions that include counseling or education related to exercise. This objective also has interesting implications for the professional roles that ACSM members can play.


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