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Congress Introduces Legislation to Regularly Update the US Physical Activity Guidelines

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) have introduced The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act, legislation that would mandate a regular review of the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. A regular review would ensure that the guidelines are in line with the most up-to-date, reliable scientific and medical research on the benefits of physical activity. It would also send a strong message about the importance of regular physical activity to good health. 

Specifically, The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to update and issue physical activity guidelines for all ages at least every 10 years while compiling intermediate “midcourse” reports highlighting specific groups, issues, concerns, or practices at least every five years.

The original Physical Activity Guidelines were issued by the HHS in 2008, with no requirements from Congress for regular updates. Regular revision and update of the recommendations is important for ensuring the overall health of the U.S. population and for keeping the U.S. a global leader in the science of physical activity and exercise.

This important legislation comes just a few days after the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition released the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report: Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth (see article below). This report, while not required by law, was in response to a growing demand among the physical activity community and policy makers for HHS to provide an updated summary of evidence-based intervention strategies and recommended next steps for increasing physical activity in children. 

“The Physical Activity Guidelines Act is an important step in fully incorporating regular exercise as a core component in America’s health,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA President and CEO. “Ensuring that experts and policy makers stay on top of current science and provide the best possible evidence-based physical activity recommendations to the public is key in helping Americans make informed decisions about their health.”

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