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WV ranks at top of national physical activity plan

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Russell Pate and Elloise Elliott Russell Pate and Elloise Elliott

The nonprofit organization National Physical Activity Plan Alliance recently selected two plans from throughout the U.S. to help promote and change culture through exercise. One was devised by West Virginians, and the other came from Texas.

The West Virginia plan was initially released in 2010 as a roadmap for actions supporting and encouraging physical activity in America. The U.S. National Physical Activity Plan unveiled the new 2016 plan, and Elloise Elliott, the Ware Distinguished Professor at the West Virginia University College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, was on board when the original plan was devised in 2010.

“When the national alliance called for the states to use the national plan as a blueprint to design a state plan, I was part of the educational section to help develop a plan,” Elliott said.

Elliott said West Virginia used that blueprint, got a group together and designed a plan to help promote a change in lifestyle and culture through physical activity.

“We began the process by meeting with community leaders across the state including government folks and others to tell them what we had in mind and get their support,” Elliott said.

Elliott said during the past three years, the West Virginia group continued to disseminate information to individual community and state groups to implement activities.

“We followed the leadership of the national plan and were invited (along with Texas) to speak as to what we do,” Elliott said. “We are being used as a model for other states.”

The first West Virginia plan in 2010 was called “Active WV 2015.” The new plan is “Active WV 2020.”

“We are updating a new plan and included some things we didn’t have on the original plan,” Elliott said.

The revised plan should be available in the fall and can be reviewed at
wvphysicalactivity.org.

Russell Pate is the chairman of the NPAP Alliance and a professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina. He said Americans are just not physically active, which creates an associated health burden.

“Ours is a very comprehensive strategy plan to increase physical activity in the U.S. population,” Pate said. “We need to be more physically active, more accessible and more readily involved in exercise and integrate it into our lifestyle.”

Pate agreed there is no magic bullet and no singular thing to solve the problem.

“We have been on a gradual slide for decades,” he said. “There have been changes in our home environment, our work (and) our community that has reduced the requirement of physical activity.”

The Alliance said there needs to be a plan that will address issues in the many different aspects of individual lives.

“We are calling on leaders and average people to take action,” he said. “This is essential and will be a tremendous public health benefit.”

The national plan, in reality, is a roadmap addressing changes that need to be made by communities, individuals, neighborhoods, churches and schools.

“We at the national level will do everything we can to implement and help communities to take up the case,” he said. “We will work with policymakers in the communities.”

As an example, Pate said an 8-year-old living in West Virginia is not necessarily influenced with what someone is talking about in Washington, D.C. when it comes to physical activity.

“Ultimately we are asking employers to provide physical activity at work and perhaps include their families, asking for after-school programs with a high priority to physical activity for sports,” Pate said.

Pate said the new plan was the result of two years of effort and hundreds of hours.

“West Virginia has really been a key contributor to this,” he said. “We mention West Virginia all the time and hope to see the entire country to follow suit.”

Pate said the entire society could make a difference by pushing for entities to adopt physical activities.

“I don’t know of anyone who had cardiac surgery that wished (he or she) didn’t need it,” Pate said. “Our whole society has to make more of an investment on the prevention side of our health.”

More information can be obtained from physicalactivityplan.org.

This story first appeared in the print edition of The State Journal. Click HERE to subscribe.

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