Federal Guidelines for Physical Activity Coming Next Year

An advisory panel has been chosen to create federal guidelines for physical activity, along the lines of the nutritional guidelines with which most Americans are familiar. Panel members are being notified, keynote speaker Melissa Johnson said April 18 in her Catherine Dempsey Lecture during the 2007 American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Symposium & Expo in Orlando, Fla. A packed audience of occupational health nurses attended the speech by Johnson, who is executive director of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in Washington, D.C.

Johnson said the physical activity guidelines will be released in fall 2008. The advisory panel is scheduled to have its first meeting June 28-29, 2007, and subsequent meetings are scheduled for November 2007 and February 2008, she said.

Johnson discussed childhood obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and federal efforts to encourage more activity by the American public. She said a "seismic shift" is necessary to combat the trend of increasingly sedentary lifestyles and the higher health costs and illness rates that result from them. Many conditions, including colon and prostate cancers, have been linked to inactivity, she said during the lecture. The "seismic shift" she envisions starts with corporate America's commitment and includes government, the community, scientists and educators, high-performance athletes, health care providers, and others, she said. The U.S. surgeon general's first report on smoking and health was issued about 40 years ago, in 1964, Johnson said, adding that she hopes the community of OHNs can look back 40 or 50 years from now and see the same level of success against sedentary lifestyles has been achieved as today's professionals see has been achieved in the fight to reduce tobacco use.

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