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NCPPA Outlines ‘Action’ Plan for Fitter, Healthier America

By Laura Kelly - The Washington Times

Attendees of a congressional information session on physical fitness work out on resistance bands in a short exercise demonstration on May 18. (Laura Kelly/The Washington Times)

Chris Jordan, inventor of the 7-Minute Workout, sought to lead by example Thursday, urging attendees at a congressional information session on physical fitness that — even in suits and ties — they could complete a few simple exercise moves. “Move more, exercise smarter,” Mr. Jordan told the group, demonstrating arm stretches and seated knee raises before performing a few repetitions with a resistance band.

With May being Physical Fitness Month, the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity took the opportunity to announce three steps they want the federal government to take to encourage healthy lifestyles for Americans.

The NCPPA is made up of about 90 groups across the spectrum of corporate, non-profit, research, politics and security to advocate for healthy living.

The group is calling for Congress to appropriate $17 million to help fund the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Active People Healthy Nation” initiative, which distributes grants to cities and states that invest in pedestrian infrastructure, bicycle infrastructure, public transit infrastructure and access, land use and environmental design, residential density parks and recreational facilities.

“We want to create a culture where easy and safe options for physical activity … exist in every community across the country,” said Dr. Ruth Peterson, CDC director of nutrition, physical activity and obesity. “We think we can make an active America together by doing a number of things.”

Dr. Peterson said federal grants provided to states and cities by the CDC outline infrastructure projects that promote physical activity among residents, and that their work supports the building of pedestrian and bicycle paths, parks and recreational facilities, among other projects.

The CDC efforts have increased the percentage of adults meeting their physical guidelines from 44 to 50 percent, Dr. Peterson said.

The second point the group highlighted is support for the Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT) would allow employed individuals to use pre-tax dollars in their Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Savings Accounts to pay for a variety of fitness activities — from gym memberships, youth sports fees, exercise equipment and other fitness-related expenses.

Their third “call to action,” is that for any federal infrastructure project to include “equitable active transportation,” spaces for cyclists, pedestrians and the disabled.

“Physical activity is a wonder drug,” Dr. Peterson said, highlighting how an active lifestyle results in a longer life and lessens the risk for serious health conditions such as heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes and obesity, the leading causes of mortality for Americans.

“If you could put [physical activity] in a pill and market it, you’d be really rich,” she joked.

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