New National Guidelines for Physical Activity

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Why is this important?

The combined authoritative weight of the federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the American Medical Association (AMA) signifies the importance of this national effort.  The accumulated science documents that 80%+ of U.S. adults and adolescents are not active enough.  This has huge implications for the future health of all Americans.

The benefits of an adequate amount and type of physical activity for employees from our science base includes:

  • Lower risk of all-cause mortality
  • Lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality
  • Lower risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke)
  • Lower risk of hypertension
  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of adverse blood lipid profile
  • Lower risk of cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, endometrium,
  • esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach
  • Improved cognition
  • Reduced risk of dementia (including Alzheimer disease)
  • Improved quality of life
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Reduced risk of depression
  • Improved sleep
  • Slowed or reduced weight gain
  • Weight loss, particularly when combined with reduced calorie intake
  • Prevention of weight regain after initial weight loss
  • Improved bone health
  • Improved physical function
  • Lower risk of falls (older adults)
  • Lower risk of fall-related injuries (older adults)

Obviously, if these health improvements were associated with a pharmaceutical agent we would all be taking it!   The new set of national guidelines are important for worksite wellness professionals to know about and actively promote because these guidelines will be reaching employees through their doctors. What we do in worksite wellness around physical activity needs to be consistent with the advice employees will be getting from their doctors.

This is also an excellent opportunity for employees to hear about it first at work; which helps establish the credibility and value of our wellness programming in workplace settings.  These guidelines also underscore the importance of physical activity as a critical gateway behavior that also touches on weight issues, nutrition issues, stress issues, tobacco use issues, and sleep issues, all of which should be emphasized in virtually all wellness programs.

In addition to the new National Guidelines themselves, we have also incorporated 2 other related articles from the American Medical Association.   The first is a brief overview of the national significance of the new guidelines and the second is a call to action for both clinicians and patients.


What can you do with this document?

Here’s what you could do with this document:

  • First, read it through, then highlight that parts that are particularly relevant to your program’s current goals and objectives.
  • Prepare a brief information piece for senior managers and key mid-level managers. (This also shows you are up-to-date and thorough in your job!)
  • Use the guidelines to help revise your program’s goals and objectives for the coming year(s).
  • Develop a proposal for senior managers with a plan to implement these new guidelines into your employee wellness initiative.
  • Feed these highlights to your wellness champions so they can begin alerting employees.  Provide a copy of this PDF to all wellness staff and volunteers
  • As you and your staff and volunteers use these new guidelines it will create more credibility and currency for your wellness program initiative.
  • Make sure your main wellness vendors are aware of these guidelines and are making plans to adapt them into HRA’s, screening activities and education components of eHealth portals, online courses, coaching, etc.
  • Create a set of metrics that help emphasize the existence and measurement of these guidelines for your population.
  • Use the guidelines as part of your program evaluation efforts and start reporting back to management on them.
  • Include these guidelines in as many relevant places in your worksite programming that you can.

In summary, this 13 page PDF can be used to update and revise your entire approach to physical activity programming, communicate to management at all levels the importance of physical activity and to help focus your measurement and reporting strategies. The more quickly you can utilize these new guidelines the more credibility you can establish for your wellness initiative.

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