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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:

Innovative Physical Activity Joint Use Agreements

by NCPPA March 29, 2011

Public park and recreation agencies and school districts in many areas have utilized Joint Use Agreements (JUA) for years. The National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (NPLAN) "defines a JUA as a formal agreement between two separate government entities - stating terms and conditions for shared use of public property or facilities." Pooling of resources allows for more effective use of government dollars, which in today's economy takes on even greater meaning as well as a heightened sense of urgency. Groups advocating for physical activity have recently begun encouraging more towns, cities and counties to consider such agreements as a way to increase the number of physical activity opportunities for their residents.

Consider the following... School playgrounds are open to the community on weekends in San Francisco as a result of a joint use agreement between the school district and the city. The City of Seattle took things a bit further... they designed and implemented a program that centralized scheduling of both school and recreation facilities, which streamlined the reservation policy and increased access. In several communities, schools and cities have combined their resources to build new recreation facilities that serve the needs of both the schools and the community (NPLAN).

The National Physical Activity Plan includes JUAs as important strategies in both the Education sector and the Parks, Fitness Recreation and Sport (PFRS) sector. The Make the Move Report - 2010-2011 National Implementation of the U.S. Physical Activity Plan lists increasing the number of JUAs by 10% over the next 5 years as a priority for the PRFS sector. The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition is co-leading this strategy with the National Recreation and Park Association.

I encourage advocates to look beyond government though for JUAs and to consider the possibility of public-private agreements. The Wheaton Park District used an innovative approach to increase their number of (much in demand) soccer fields. A large corporate campus sat at the edge of park district and had plenty of flat (this was Illinois!), green space that was there purely for its aesthetic value. The two organizations signed an agreement that stated the park district would mow the grass in return for its use as soccer fields evenings and weekends. I dare say there are many possibilities like this across the country.

Perhaps there is a private health club located near a school. Use of the club may be sparse during the day... what a great opportunity for a PE class! Maybe there's a camp nearby used only in the summer... strike a deal for use of its athletic facilities. Many places of worship even have recreational facilities. The possibilities are endless to increase spaces and places for people of all ages to engage in physical activity - if you just think the outside the box a bit!

What kinds of unique joint use agreements can you think of? Are there facilities in your own community that you could see working with to increase the opportunities for physical activity?

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Building Healthy Communities | Playing Outside | Recreation

Achieving Population Changes in Physical Activity through Targeting Specific Settings

by NPAP March 21, 2011

Children exercising

“One day, all Americans will be physically active and then will live, work, and play in environments that facilitate regular physical activity.”  This is the stated vision of the US National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP), and it speaks to the importance of targeting specific settings.  Success of the NPAP will come, in large part, as the result of local actions that target specific settings such as schools, workplaces, community streets, and parks.  The NPAP is chock-full of Strategies and Tactics aimed at specific settings.   Here are just a few examples of Strategies and Tactics taken directly from the NPAP that target such settings.

In targeting the workplace, the first strategy from the Business and Industry Sector aims to identify, summarize, and disseminate best practices, models, and evidence-based physical activity interventions in the workplace. Within this strategy are several, more specific tactics including: Recognize organizations that are examples of best practices; Recruit key business and industry leaders to play central roles in influencing their peers.  Are there businesses that you are aware of that can serve as models of an active workplace for other employers?

Within the first strategy from the Parks, Recreation, Fitness and Sports sector there is an emphasis on local facilities providing access for all members of the population.  One specific tactic is:   Provide programs in parks, recreation, fitness, and sports that are appropriate for individuals of both genders, diverse cultures, abilities, developmental stages and needs and that have demonstrated positive physical activity outcomes.  Do you know of programs that have demonstrated positive outcomes, meeting the needs of a diverse community?

Increasing physical activity through active transportation is a very attractive option on many levels.  The NPAP has a sector devoted to this which includes the following tactic:  Support and increase incentives for community projects to create safe and accessible active transportation networks, including not just roadways with pedestrian, bicycle, and transit accommodation, but also networks of greenways, trails, and multi-use pathways. How would you go about rallying support for such initiatives in your community?

Because of their broad reach, schools represent an ideal target environment for increasing physical activity in youth.  Within the NPAP’s Education sector, there are many specific recommendations for doing just that.  One such recommendation includes working with teachers through requiring pre-service and continuing education for physical education and elementary classroom teachers to deliver high-quality physical education and physical activity programs.  As a concerned parent, school board member, or citizen, what steps are you taking to ensure regular physical activity for all students in your area?

Part of the process of evaluating the NPAP is documenting actions targeting specific settings.  Based on the examples you see above, or any other of the NPAP’s strategies and tactics, please tell us what is happening in your area by going to

Can We Catch "Healthy Lifestyles" from Our Co-Workers?

by IHRSA March 14, 2011

We know from research that obesity can spread through social networks like an infectious disease.

In fact, one model suggests that the rate of transmission has been steadily increasing and may result in an obesity rate that stabilizes at 42% of the population. Of course, research predicting a 42% obesity rate is troubling and alarming, but it also begs a very hopeful question for policymakers: can we start an epidemic of infectious healthy living?

The question has profound implications for wellness programming, particularly in the area of workplace wellness, where an individual can have long exposure to a static social network. For example, the Partnership for Prevention, in it's publication Leading by Example: The Value of Worksite Health Promotion to Small- and Medium-Sized Employers, challenges organizations to "[d]efine, create, and sustain a culture of health that supports your health promotion goals and values." By changing the culture of health, it is presumed, an organization can change the behavior of its social networks.

The Worksite Sector of the National Physical Activity Plan takes the idea one step further. The sector promotes the importance of creating not just a culture of health at the workplace, but also a supportive environment for physically active lifestyles. It's a somewhat novel argument, but one rapidly gaining acceptance in light of the health and economic benefits of exercise.

The Worksite Sector - co-chaired by the American Council on Exercise, the American Heart Association, and the International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association - is currently working on three strategies for promoting physical activity in the workplace:

  1. Identify best practices and model interventions;
  2. Develop a multi-communication and outreach plan designed to engage, inform and inspire leaders to promote active lifestyles in organizations, industries and local communities; and
  3. Develop legislation and policy agendas that promote employer-sponsored physical activity, while protecting individual employees' and dependents' rights.

IHRSA is thrilled by the progress of the sector, some of which was chronicled in the first edition of the National Physical Activity Plan e-newsletter. Driven by remarkable group of strategy leaders and advisors, the sector has begun to lay the groundwork for a fundamental and sustainable transformation of the workplace environment. If work is truly a second home for many Americans, we look forward to the day when the second home is as wonderfully active as the first.

In many ways, the sector approach of the National Physical Activity Plan resembles a grand experiment into whether we can create an epidemic of healthy living. It will be a study of whether the inspiration to live a more active life may be introduced and subsequently thrive in a particular community. Inspiration alone, however, will surely not be enough; it will take thousands of champions from every sector to push the experiment ahead, and I'm looking forward to compelling America's worksite leaders to start pushing.

Do you know a worksite or business leader who would support the goals of the National Physical Activity Plan?

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