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Top Policy Initiatives to Encourage Physical Activity

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It’s that time of year again—when gyms, trails, studios and pools are filled to the brim with “resolutioners.” Any number of sources list “exercise more” (of some variation thereof) as one of the top three New Year’s Resolutions for any given year and 2018 is no different!

Studies also tell us that the vast majority of such “resolutioners” lose their resolve quickly—in fact U.S. News & World Report says that 80% of resolutions fail by the second week in February. It is easy to make a resolution to move more, get in shape or lead a healthier lifestyle. But it is far more difficult to stick to it. Personal resolve is certainly part of stick-to-itiveness but there are several types of policy initiatives that can encourage people to become (and stay!) active.

Policy happens on a variety of levels including federal, state and local; and it also happens in the workplace. Policy changes focused on physical activity can make it more accessible, more affordable, more fun and even safer. Such changes can help lessen or even eliminate some barriers to physical activity. Here are four examples of policies that can help get people moving in 2018:

Federal

The most promising piece of physical activity legislation in Congress is the Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT-S. 487/H.R.1267). PHIT would allow the use of health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts for most forms of physical activity. The bill has achieved some promising momentum, with over 100 House and Senate members demonstrating their support by “signing on” as co-sponsors. Advocates are optimistic that further action may be taken on the bill in coming months. It is important that members know this is something their constituents want, and you can help by clicking here to tell your Representative and Senators that you support the bill and asking them to co-sponsor it.

State

Physical activity legislation at the state level comes from a variety of perspectives but it is often focused on getting youth moving. Recess has disappeared from many school systems across the nation, but state policymakers have the power to utilize the law to require recess in all public schools. Many studies have shown the far-reaching benefits of recess. One example of such a policy is a currently pending Delaware bill (DE H 10) that would require all children enrolled in K-8 public schools to have 2, 10-minute recess periods per day.

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