Lobby for a More Fit America
As ACE works towards our goal of eliminating the obesity epidemic in America, we are encouraging fitness and allied health professionals, government leaders and corporate America to find new ways to build bridges that change lives through fitness.
The American Council on Exercise supports a legislative agenda that encourages consumers to make behavioral and lifestyle changes that will result in increased activity levels and healthier eating habits by making the right choice the easy choice. We believe that by serving as a champion for enhanced community and workplace partnerships and greater public access to healthy lifestyle and fitness education offerings across the country, we can foster collaboration between fitness and community leaders to develop and enhance physical activity programs and rally with industry partners and like-minded organizations to give rise to greater public access to fitness resources at the local level all across the country.
Shared Use Park Etiquette and Safety: A Guide for Public Policy, the Fitness Professional and Participants
ACE's vision for how we can help every American live their most fit life and our public policy platform is based on the following beliefs:
Proactive Involvement from Local Leaders
Realizing the vision of a nation fully committed to health and fitness demands a new kind of collaboration among fitness professionals, health-care leaders, policymakers, employers and educators. In 2012 we saw improvements to school-lunch programs, the inclusion of nutrition in the presidential Active lifestyle Award Challenge (PALA+) and a greater interest in fitness initiatives from local leaders. These initiatives are moving us in the right direction. Health and fitness leaders must continue to advocate for funding to incorporate more healthy living messaging and activity-based programs into communities and our public education system. Local government leaders across the United States have the opportunity to play a more significant role in initiating, supporting and promoting activity-based programs and physical education initiatives in cities and towns across America. Communities across the country are rich with individuals who are leading activity-based programs. ACE continues to support these individuals as well as the Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties initiative. ACE calls on mayors and city leaders across the country to take an active and substantive role in addressing the health and fitness of their communities as well as to support those individuals leading activity-based programs at the grassroots level.
Greater Access and Innovation in Fitness
Greater access to gyms, parks and recreation centers for all individuals will go a long way toward improving our nation’s health. Whether that’s through transportation, the development of walkable communities or the construction of new recreation facilities, government agencies and organizations must do more to make fitness readily available and accessible to all. New Community Transformation Grants have been financed by 2012 Prevention and Public Health Funds via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These grants have also made it possible for cities with less than 500,000 people to apply for funds to improve access to places for physical activity, increase availability of healthy foods and encourage smoke-free environments. Aside from increasing accessibility, the fitness industry must also embrace new, innovative education programs for professionals. Opportunities in pioneering fields including health coaching and obesity counseling will help fitness professionals, members of the allied health community and corporate leaders to better understand how lifestyle modifications, behavioral change, nutrition and fitness must work in concert to ignite a sustainable transformation.
Federal Funding That Supports Livable Communities
Creating and promoting livable communities, where transportation alternatives like walking trails and bike lanes are standard, is one of the surest ways to integrate physical activity and healthy living into daily routines. We see progress in this regard through initiatives such as the National Complete Streets Coalition and the Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership aimed at supporting activity-based transportation in communities nationwide. Additionally this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation earmarked $4.1 billion for the Livable Communities Program, a competitive grant initiative designed to help cities and towns increase transportation choices and access for all individuals. ACE believes that increased federal funding for livable communities is a critical part of the nation’s fitness future, and is working collaboratively with its partners to advocate for new programs.
Fitness in the Workplace
ACE continues to support wellness-in-the-workplace initiatives and encourages corporate America to connect with fitness professionals to access credible and safe fitness resources for employees. From standing desks and walking meetings to employee discounts and reduced membership fees at fitness facilities and health clubs, corporate leaders are finding ways to incorporate physical activity into the workplace. Corporations are taking note of the latest research recognizing the decrease in health-care costs and increase in employee productivity in workplace settings where employees are provided with programming that encourages healthy living. Key research conducted this year revealed a link between poor nutrition, smoking, physical inactivity and poor sleeping habits with lost productivity on the job. While we’ve seen many companies begin to provide wellness resources for employees, ACE encourages more organizations to follow suit and support incentives and initiatives that provide active workplace environments, better nutrition options in worksite cafeterias and education related to healthy living. ACE further supports efforts to encourage certified health coaches within corporate America and small businesses throughout the country to lead these efforts to ensure the safety, wellbeing and productivity of American workers.
More Collaboration Among Fitness and Healthcare Organizations
Helping all generations incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives will not only improve individual health and performance; it will, over time, decrease the onset of preventable disease. Leaders within the ﬁtness, health care and allied health industries must make more of an effort to share information and resources as we heighten public awareness about the importance of making healthy choices. Help is needed for millions of individuals to learn and develop new behaviors and a genuine interest in becoming healthy and leading an active lifestyle. ACE’s Vision 2035 is a call to action for all those concerned with the health of our nation and creates the opportunity for us to build bridges by rallying a host of industries toward this common cause.
Healthier Choices and Education
ACE continues to advocate for public access to the information consumers need to make more informed decisions and change longstanding unhealthy habits. Individual responsibility and choice is key when it comes to embracing a healthier lifestyle. To make those choices easier and to empower Americans with credible, research-based information, ACE has made a major investment into the growth of the ACE Get Fit™ online resource center. By providing free access to workout options; a robust exercise library; research based studies that test the effectiveness of ﬁtness products, programs and trends; healthy recipes; expert insight into consumer ﬁtness questions; and creative ways for families to adopt healthy habits, ACE Get Fit is the go-to resource for trusted, reliable information on how individuals can live their most ﬁt lives. This year, ACE supported the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), now before Congress, which will provide states and districts more ﬂexibility to invest in student health and wellness resources in areas where they will have the greatest impact. In addition to standard gym classes and sports teams, schools should be given the tools and ﬁnancial support they need to make health and ﬁtness education a widespread sustainable reality. Our vision for the future includes access to healthy foods and activity-rich environments for every American. In the spirit of enabling access to healthier choices, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ program, Communities Putting Prevention to Work, supports communities in implementing environmental changes to make healthy living easier. Environmental changes supported by this program include means for safe, active transportation for pedestrians, bicyclists and mass-transit users and ensuring healthy food options in schools. One in six Americans lives in a city, town, county or tribal community that beneﬁts from this initiative.
Greater Inclusiveness to Encourage Fitness for All
Longstanding attitudes and biases have kept people from all walks of life from adopting a healthy lifestyle. The fear of failure, embarrassment about body image or belief that an exercise program doesn’t match their abilities keeps many people from beginning the journey to a healthy lifestyle. The ACE Integrated Fitness Training® model gives ﬁtness professionals and health coaches the knowledge and tools they need to combat those attitudes and physical limitations. ACE’s partnership with Academia Fit, a community ﬁtness program that offers free, group-based exercise classes to the Latino community, continues to thrive. As a member of the Inclusive Fitness Coalition, ACE will continue to facilitate the coordination of professionals who specialize in serving people with disabilities. ACE is committed to ensuring that no one goes without the opportunity to live their most ﬁt life.
Given the alarming rise of childhood obesity, coupled with the critical role that education plays in inﬂuencing people of all ages to adopt healthy lifestyles, ACE believes public schools and institutions of higher education must be encouraged to incorporate higher quality health and ﬁtness curricula, standards, and guidelines into their programming. The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, a partner of ACE, has revised the old Physical Fitness Test to become the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, which assesses health rather than athleticism. This program provides training and resources for schools to properly assess children’s health-related fitness levels, such as aerobic capacity and body composition (BMI). Additionally, ACE provides its Operation FitKids® curriculum at no cost to public schools in an effort to influence children to adopt healthy behaviors they’ll ultimately carry into adulthood. However, we believe schools must also have the equipment and facilities to teach comprehensive fitness classes, which demands cooperation among public and private sector organizations, including equipment manufacturers. In addition to reaching children in public schools, ACE curricula is used in more than 400 colleges, universities and technical schools to help educate aspiring fitness and allied health professionals. We continue to partner with leading universities to conduct research on fitness fads and products to ensure the public is armed with the information they need to make informed choices regarding the myriad of physical activity options available to them.
Engagement with Low-Income Communities
Research indicates that low-income communities see a higher rate of obesity and chronic disease due, in part, to less access to gyms, fitness facilities, higher quality, healthy foods and trustworthy information. We believe a special effort must be made to improve awareness and understanding of the importance of healthy lifestyle choices in low-income neighborhoods. As ACE’s network of over 52,000 certified professionals grows, knowledgeable personal trainers, group fitness instructors and health coaches are serving historically low-income neighborhoods and volunteering their time to support this population. Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would provide financial and other rewards to local educational agencies and schools in high-poverty communities making the most progress in improving student achievement and growth. The Communities Putting Prevention to Work programs include community-specific initiatives such as encouraging farmers markets to accept supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program cards, making fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible and affordable, as well as supporting of afterschool programs that implement physical-activity requirements.
Leverage Private Funds and Contributions
For physical activity, good nutrition decisions and healthy lifestyle choices to be systematically integrated into daily life for all Americans, key stakeholders must work together each day to emphasize the fitness-health connection. To give communities, schools and employers the tools they need to incorporate opportunities and education centered on fitness and nutrition, funding is needed. The creation of the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Establishment Act is one step forward in encouraging funding and other contributions to support the goal of a healthier America. To reach people of all demographics and income levels, health and fitness leaders must do more to collaborate with and assist organizations that obtain and distribute private contributions toward this vitally important cause.
Want to Help Pass Legislation on Federal and Local Levels?
Are you interested in affecting national and state initiatives that promote more active lifestyles for all Americans? We encourage you to join with our efforts to work to pass laws that will help affect societal changes toward a more fit America.
We have now instituted powerful tools that allow you to take action, monitor legislative issues, easily voice your opinions and speak to your elected officials on issues that are important to you via our website.
The initiative is focused on establishing and enhancing an influential, powerful and unified political voice for the fitness industry while strengthening our commitment to public outreach and increasing the number of ACE-certified fitness professionals who actively participate in grassroots advocacy.
Help us fight the obesity epidemic and work toward empowering all individuals to live their most fit life, take action now! For current issues, please click on the link below.
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