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Be Active Your Way Blog

February Blog Theme

February marks another milestone in the movement for a healthier generation - the 3rd year anniversary of the Let's Move! campaign. This month, Be Active Your Way bloggers will reflect on work that has been done to combat childhood obesity, as well as the road ahead.

To celebrate the Anniversary of Let's Move!, you'll hear from:

Active Aging: A Policy Framework

by ICAA November 23, 2011

The concept of active aging was adopted by the World Health Organization in the late 1990s. Today, active aging provides a conceptual framework for governments, communities and corporations to plan and implement multi-dimsensional strategies to improve the quality of life for older adults. Individuals can also improve their quality of life by being engaged in life as fully as possible throughout the life span. Accomplishing this requires that an individual be physically active, cognitively and socially engaged, occupationally or vocationally involved, and emotionally and spiritually healthy.

Dimensions of Active Aging

Physical health means choosing lifestyle habits that maintain or improve your health and functional ability. Things people can do to enhance their physical health include: exercising, eating a proper diet, playing sports, sleeping regularly, caring for self, and not using alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

Cognitive/intellectual health means engaging in creative pursuits and intellectually stimulating activities, as well as problem solving and reasoning. Activities one can participate in to improve intellectual/cognitive health include: brain fitness classes and workshops, cultural activities, arts and crafts, journaling, games or puzzles, and reading.

Emotional health means managing and directing one's feelings, coping with challenges, and behaving in trustworthy and respectful ways. Things one can do to improve emotional health include: practicing stress management, embracing humor and laughter, and writing or talking about his or her personal hisotory.

Social health means interacting with others for mutual benefit, as well as awareness of and participation in the larger community. Things once can do to improve social health include: joining a club, volunteering, dancing, visiting friends and family, doing group and intergenerational activities, and traveling with a group.

Spiritual health means living with a meaning or purpose in life, and exploring beliefs and values that create personal peace and understanding. Things one can do to enhance spiritual health include: group and/or individual faith-based activities, personal meditation or reflection, mindful exercise (e.g. yoga, tai chi), and experiencing nature.

Occupational/vocational health means maintaining or improving skills, abilities and attitudes that help individuals stay productive and satisfied with the work they do. Things one can do to to enhance their professional or vocational health include: paid work, volunteering, skill-building classes, mentoring, tutoring, starting a hobby, and caregiving.

Active Aging - An Appealing Future for All

The financial cost associated with a disengaged older population is immense. The financial rewards for an engaged older population are significant. To ensure that engagement is created...

...governments will need to create and support policies, funding, and tax breaks for organizations, communities and businesses that create and deliver engaging active aging programs.

...businesses will need to train, retrain, and retain a greater number of their workforce by providing engaging active aging programs.

...communities will need to provide settings and supportive organizations that will provide engaging active aging opportunities and environments.

...families will need to embrace the concept of active aging to create greater emotional and social ties with their loved ones, and to help them improve their quality of life.

...individuals will need to decide if being engaged in life as fully as possible throughout the lifespan is a lifestyle choice they wish to embrace in achieving quality of life.

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Older adults | Policy

Working Together for Policy Success

by NCPPA November 18, 2011

It's a wonderful time to be in the business of promoting physical activity. There aren't many issues in the public policy arena that enjoy such a broad consensus of support across political, social, and cultural lines. Everyone agrees that physical activity is good, regular physical activity is better, and a physically active lifestyle is best!

But it is a challenging time in Washington, DC and across the nation - with dwindling public health dollars, austere budgeting, "nanny state" push-back, and the need to accomplish more with fewer resources. That is why it is more important than ever that people, organizations, government agencies, industries, and others who are interested in promoting health and wellness must come together. We need to present consistent, unified messaging, coordinate our resources, and collaborate across various sectors to create healthier environments and policies that allow people to make healthy choices.

In our efforts to implement the National Physical Activity Plan, the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity has built a network of individuals working across eight different sectors - including education, public health, business/industry, health care, parks and recreation, and transportation - to implement the strategies and tactics laid out in this important road map. These strategies drive specific policies and programs aimed at getting people up on their feet and moving.

Business & Industry Sector

In the business and industry sector, we are working to identify, collect, and make available the best practices, models, and existing programs for physical activity in the workplace. The sector team has developed a CEO Pledge, urging corporate leaders to commit themselves and their companies to provide opportunities and access for their employees to be active before, during, and after the work day. These businesses will gain access to a valuable resource list to help shift their corporate cultures from sedentary to physically active work environments.

Education Sector

One of the education sector's strategies is to promote policies to provide access and opportunities for physical activity in after-school programming. The sector team conducted a survey to compile information on standards and guidelines for afterschool activity. They gathered data from 500 programs in 10 regions, and also looked at school districts with diverse demographic profiles. In fact, this year marked the first development and adoption of National Standards on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Afterschool Programs.

Health Sector

The health sector is working to make physical activity a "vital sign" that all health care providers assess and discuss with patients. The team is working to establish physical inactivity as a treatable and preventable condition with profound health implications. They are also developing policies to include physical activity in the education and training of all health care professionals.

The Federal government by nature of its broad reach can lead the cultural shift. The same folks who put Rosie the Riveter to work in the factories now need to help Rosie get off the couch and make the move to a physically active lifestyle. Physical activity needs to be inserted into the health policies of the entire government.

To reach the ultimate goal of creating a society of physically active children and adults, we all need to use a common voice when bringing our ideas and energy to the effort. There's something for everyone in the National Physical Activity Plan. What are you doing to help put the plan into action?


National Plan | Policy | Schools

Building a National Movement, One Community at a Time

by IHRSA November 9, 2011

The National Physical Activity Plan is a multi-sectoral blueprint for creating a more robust culture of physical activity. It's appropriately aspirational, but grounded in practical objectives. Much like Healthy People 2020, it's great strength is its ability to unite powerful forces of change around common goals.

But the magnitude of the project - creating a cultural shift of national proportions - can feel overwhelming. So many changes need to be made in so many places. Real, measurable progress seems difficult to identify.

But like the journey of a thousand miles that begins with a single step, maybe cultural shifts of national proportions can begin with a single county.

And that county may be Greenville, South Carolina.

The folks of Greenville have created Livewell Greenville, a partnership of dozens of public and private organizations that aims to make Greenville County a healthier place to live, work, and play.

The approach of Livewell Greenville is to not only provide educational resources about healthy living, but also to create policies, systems and environments that make the healthy choice the easy choice.

The initiative focuses on seven societal buckets: at school, before and after school, at work, at the doctor, at mealtime, around town, and "for fun."

The following Livewell Greenville goals relate to physical activity:

  • Provide tools to teachers to encourage physical activity during learning and throughout the day.
  • Encourage more childcare providers to serve healthy meals and snacks and offer regular structured physical activity in licensed childcare centers.
  • Encourage more after school providers to serve healthy meals and snacks and offer regular structured physical activity in non-licensed after school programs.
  • Incentivize after school programs and childcare centers to adopt policies that support healthy eating and active living among children.
  • Increase the number of work places that adopt policies and environments that support employees in staying physically active and eating healthy, nutritious food.
  • Encourage health care providers to provide patients with practical referrals for healthy eating, active living, and treatment for obesity.
  • Enable residents to run errands and commute on foot, by bike, or on Greenlink.
  • Enable more Greenville County children to walk to school safely.
  • Encourage neighborhood groups and residents to become more involved in the transportation planning process.
  • Increase safety through Park Watch programs.
  • Increase access to basic recreation facilities through the development of a model Complete Parks policy.
  • Increase accessibility to local parks.
  • Increase awareness of local facilities where residents can play and be active.

My hope is that Livewill Greenville will inspire thousands of similar community-based efforts around the country. Surely, duplicating the initiative would not be easy, and Livewelll Greenville benefits from the talents of dedicated community champions willing to invest significant time to make the initiative meaningful, but I'm willing to bet that every community has champions who are up for the challenge. Maybe every community won't succeed, but given what's at stake, it's certainly worth a try.

To follow the progress of Livewell Greenville and learn more about their inspirational community efforts, please visit

What are some examples of other communities dedicated to creating a healthier place to live, work, and play?

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