Graham Melstrand by Graham Melstrand

Dear Members of the 117th Congress: 

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of prioritizing health and wellness. Studies have shown that Americans who are living with an inactivity-related chronic disease such as obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes have had more severe COVID-19 outcomes than those who do not. Investing in physical activity, which has been shown to prevent and treat chronic diseases, is more important than ever.  

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physically active people generally live longer and are at less risk for chronic disease, including obesity which affects more than 30% of Americans aged 18 years or older. Further, about half of all adults in the U.S. have at least one chronic health condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes and less than 25% of adult Americans meet the U.S. Physical Activity GuidelinesThese conditions are costly to our healthcare systems and adversely impact productivity, military readiness and quality of life for Americans. 

Increasing physical activity through an array of approaches such as behavior-change counseling, structured exercise programs delivered in communities that provide opportunities for all members of communities to engage in physical activity and increasing funding for public health agencies could create a healthier population and save millions of Americans from a lifetime of health issues 

The American Council on Exercise calls on Congress to consider the following policies: 

  • Incentivize the inclusion of community resources and programs such as behavior-change counseling that could be delivered by teams that include non-traditional providers such as well-qualified exercise professionals and health coaches in coordinated care for people living with chronic disease that utilize Medicare, Medicaid, military healthcare, and private insurance.  
  • Support evidence-based, behavior-focused preventive interventions that are safe, effective, accessible, and affordable to Americans of all ages, ethnicities, and income levels that can be delivered in communities, schools, workplaces, health clubs and fitness facilities. 
  • Encourage state and local governments to expand access and reduce restrictions for the use of green spaces, parks and schools for safe, structured, physical-activity experiences led by well-qualified exercise professionals, health coaches and other qualified professionals.   
  • Recognize behavior-change counseling and structured physical activity programs as allowable expenses for Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Accounts. 
  • Increase funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention efforts to promote physical activity as an effective means of prevention and management of chronic diseases. 

We are here to serve as a resource for the 117th Congress. Please visit us at, call us at (858) 380-3899 or send us an email at 

In health, 

Graham Melstrand 

Executive Vice President, Mission and Innovation