Try to imagine a new workforce spread across the United States. This workforce would deliver programs that people of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities could participate in to learn how to adopt a more physically active lifestyle. It is an extension of the healthcare system, but it’s nontraditional, consisting mostly of a new kind of health worker – individuals who are trained in behavior-change coaching. These professionals will help people learn the basics of safely getting moving and equip them to weave regular physical activity into life’s hectic demands. Most importantly, the members of this new workforce would be skilled at facilitating behavior-change programs for families, neighbors, coworkers and entire communities.
This new, recommended workforce is spelled out in a blueprint published by the multisector Prescription for Activity Task Force (PfA), which ACE assembled in 2016. The task force examined how to unlock healthcare’s potential to increase physical activity across the U.S. PfA mapped out, among other ideas, the path to trusted new physical-activity “resources” in communities nationwide, like those non-traditional health workers delivering behavior-change programs. The participants in these programs include those six out of every ten Americans (according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) who are fighting preventable, and costly, chronic conditions.
This short video describes the PfA blueprint in a way that is compelling and easy to understand.
Although wonderful in theory, there are still critical details to be ironed out to make PfA a reality. However, there are things right now a curious ACE Certified Professional can do today to prepare for, or even help in a small way, to move the recommendation forward:
- Look around your community and see if you happen to live in a pocket of innovation in which what is described above is already happening! These early innovations are more common than one might think. This CERTIFIED piece, “Medical Fitness: Is It the Wave of the Future?” tells the story of one in particular.
- Watch the Prescription for Activity video, and if you’d like a deep dive, read the white paper.
- Consider continuing education that equips you to work with special populations. You can find options here. The skills practiced by ACE Certified Health Coaches will be particularly relevant.
- At the very least, keep your accredited certification current. Exercise professionals and health coaches with trusted, verifiable credentials will be well-situated as the recommendation to help more Americans achieve healthy physical activity levels unfolds.