Washington, D.C.—May 15, 2018The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA) sponsored a briefing on Capitol Hill on May 10 to call attention to how Congress, the Administration, industry, nonprofits and others within both the public and private sectors can work together to create a national way of life that supports and inspires physical activity—a linchpin for a physically, economically, and militarily stronger America. The event, “Creating an Active America Together,” was held during National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and came on the heels of an all-day workshop at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to address the issue of obesity and overweight in the armed forces.

“The amount of exercise Americans get on a regular basis affects our nation dramatically,” said Ayanna McKnight, Coalition Manager of NCPPA. “All of us, including our leaders on Capitol Hill, must recognize the critical importance of exercise in ensuring the strength and wellbeing of our nation. And we must work together to create a more active America.”

The event featured experts on physical activity, including:

  • Ruth Petersen, MD, MPH, Director, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
  • Captain Daniel B. Bornstein, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Health, Exercise, and Sport Science at The Citadel;
  • Kelley Vargo, MPH, MS Health Coach, Faculty Department of Exercise & Nutrition Science, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University;
  • Tom McMillen, Board Treasurer, National Fitness Foundation, President and Chief Executive Officer of the LEAD1 Association, retired professional basketball player and former U.S. Congressman;
  • Laurie Whitsel, PhD, FAHA, Director of Policy Research at the American Heart Association; and
  • Tom Richards, Director of Community Engagement, American Council on Exercise (ACE)

The panelists presented a clear message of the importance of physical activity as a means of addressing a broad range of challenges our nation currently faces—from addressing the burden of chronic disease on our nation’s health and healthcare system to helping ensure military readiness at a time when the lack of physical fitness is becoming a leading problem in recruiting for the armed forces and as an underlying cause contributing to training-related musculoskeletal injuries among active duty military personnel.

The event also served as an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of the upcoming release of the new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which originally were released in 2008.

“I urge all members of Congress to recognize the sustaining role that regular physical activity plays in keeping us physically, mentally, militarily, and economically strong,” said Helen Durkin, NCPPA president-elect and executive vice president for public policy at the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) in an opinion piece published in Morning Consult the day after the event. “Bring exercise into the conversation as you address the challenges we face. And implement public policies that not only promote exercise, but also make it an easy choice and an achievable way of life for every American.”


NCPPA is a nonprofit coalition determined to unite the strengths of public, private and industry to inspire and empower all Americans to lead more physically active lifestyles. Member organizations can be found on its website.