American Heart Association Urges Federal Investment in Physical Activity Following CDC Study

September 15, 2016 Categories: Advocacy News

Washington, D.C., September 15,  2016 – American Heart Association President Steven Houser, Ph.D., FAHA issued the following comments today on new research, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that examines “Physical Inactivity Among Adults Aged 50 Years and Older”:

“Physical activity can be one of the most potent medicines for overall health. Unfortunately, not nearly enough Americans choose to take it. According to a new CDC report, nearly 28 million Americans, ages 50 and up, are physically inactive.

The numbers are worse for older adults with chronic conditions. Almost 32 percent were inactive compared with 19 percent of older adults with no chronic diseases.  For those with heart disease and stroke, the percentages are even higher—38 percent of heart disease patients and 43 percent of stroke patients were found to be inactive.

These findings are particularly alarming because studies have shown that sedentary lifestyles and physical inactivity are dangerous for your health.  Some research indicates that little or no physical fitness can be a more significant predictor of mortality than other cardiovascular disease and stroke risk factors, including smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

This latest CDC report carries the same message the American Heart Association has stressed for years:  one of the best ways to halt our health epidemic is to support policies that encourage active lifestyles from a young age. Our association has long advocated for such policies, including mandating physical education as part of a well-rounded education, increasing Safe Routes to School, and designing our communities to ensure safe and equitable access for more walking and biking.

We urge the federal government to invest in physical activity and coordinate across the agencies to improve surveillance, increase funding to states and localities for policy, system, and environment change around physical activity, and develop a direct-to-consumer campaign to raise awareness about the importance of being physically active.

If the proper investments are made now, we can ensure that more Americans take this life-changing ‘medication’ and improve their cardiovascular health. We applaud the CDC for highlighting the dangers of this national issue, and we will continue to support policies and legislation that promote active lifestyles at all ages.”

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Media Contact:  Retha Sherrod, (202) 785-7929; Retha.sherrod@heart.org