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ACSM Hails "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act"

by User Not Found | Mar 12, 2013

For immediate release                                   
March 12, 2013


Dan Henkel (317) 446-2666 (

Monte Ward (202) 236-7097 (

ACSM Hails “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act”

Bipartisan bill calls for updated, evidence-based guidelines


INDIANAPOLIS – Americans deserve physical activity guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence, say experts and advocates. A federal bill filed March 12 would set a ten-year cycle for review of the guidelines based on “the preponderance of scientific and medical knowledge.” Midway through each cycle, a second report would highlight “best practices and continuing issues in the physical activity arena, which may focus on a particular group…or a particular issue relating to the physical activity of Americans.” S. 531, the “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act,” is sponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS). Harkin chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.


The American College of Sports Medicine enthusiastically expressed its support. ACSM president Janet Walberg Rankin, Ph.D., FACSM, said, “Since the first federal U.S. physical activity guidelines were published in 2008, much research has led to a greater understanding of the relationship between physical activity and health. We are also learning how to motivate people to lead healthy lifestyles, and how better to incorporate physical activity and exercise into daily living. Just as with nutritional guidelines, Americans need physical activity guidelines that reflect the growing evidence base supporting this crucial area.” She noted that studies by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services indicate that 68 percent of adults and 16.9 percent of children in the United States are obese and overweight, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that poor diet and physical inactivity cause more than 400,000 deaths each year.


ACSM and other proponents have long called for legislation establishing a regular cycle of review and updating for physical activity guidelines, as is done with federal nutritional guidelines. Americans have become used to using tools such as the food pyramid – and now, My Plate – as guidance for planning healthy meals. Similarly, widespread dissemination of physical activity guidelines can help Americans enjoy the benefits of being physically active.


Experts say those benefits go beyond individual health and quality of life. “It’s important to note the many co-benefits of physical activity and exercise,” said Stephen Rice, M.D., Ph.D., FACSM, who chairs ACSM’s Health and Science Policy Committee. “Society as a whole benefits from reduced health care costs when people are healthier and more fit. Students achieve better test scores. Employers see lower absenteeism and greater productivity among workers, and we all enjoy reduced air pollution when people practice active transit.”


Rankin heads the ActivEarth initiative, promoting policies and a built environment that are more amenable to active transit – biking or walking instead of driving. She and Rice are among the experts pointing out that helping Americans become and stay healthy should be a national strategic priority. In times of budgetary scrutiny, they noted, the economics of physical activity are compelling. Regular renewal of physical activity guidelines would capitalize on that strategy, reflecting the common focus of initiatives such as Exercise is Medicine, Every Body Walk!, Let’s Move!, Designed to Move, and the National Physical Activity Plan.




The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.


The American College of Sports Medicine supports the 10 Criteria for Responsible Health Reporting as articulated by

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