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March 29, 2013
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ACSM: World Physical Activity Day Should Include All
Theme of April 6 observance: “No Barriers to Physical Activity”
INDIANAPOLIS – As people around the globe hit streets, trails and gyms to celebrate World Physical Activity Day, advocates note that the built environment plays a big part in encouraging or inhibiting opportunities for healthy physical activity.
“This year’s World Physical Activity Day – Saturday, April 6 – carries the theme ‘No Barriers to Physical Activity,’” said Janet Walberg Rankin, Ph.D., FACSM president of the American College of Sports Medicine. “We take that seriously, given that research strongly links physical activity to health. Everyone should be appropriately active, and people with disabilities face additional barriers that we must address.”
For some, barriers to a physically active lifestyle include a lack of nearby parks or sidewalks, walking trails, or safe neighborhoods in which to play and walk. Good planning can ensure that facilities meet the needs of people with physical or cognitive disabilities. Organizations such as the Inclusive Fitness Coalition advocate for changes to the built environment that will allow physical activity for all, throughout the lifespan.
Proponents of World Physical Activity Day and of initiatives such as Every Body Walk!, Designed to Move, the National Physical Activity Plan, ActivEarth and Exercise is Medicine® note that, in addition to improved individual health and quality of life, physical activity and exercise bring numerous co-benefits such as health care cost savings, reduced environmental impact and better academic achievement. U.S. federal physical activity guidelines call for sixty minutes per day, most days of the week, for children and thirty minutes daily for adults.
World Physical Activity Day began in 2002, when the World Health Organization designated promotion of physical activity as a theme for World Health Day, inspired by the Brazilian movement Agita São Paulo. Proponents are encouraged to download a World Physical Activity Day poster and to organize local events encouraging inclusive opportunities for physical fitness.