The ACE Advocacy staff visited with members of Congress and their staff last week at the #WhyGetActive Health Policy Fair on Capitol Hill. The first-of-its-kind event featured a cross-section of 10 national and international leaders in the promotion of physical activity who, along with members of Congress and their staff, gathered in one place to answer the question, “Why Get Active?”
#WhyGetActive is an inspirational movement, spearheaded by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), that is designed to provide a worldwide platform for sharing individuals’ reasons for being physically active. The movement’s goal is to aid in fostering a cultural shift toward wellness—wherein physically active lifestyles are encouraged, supported and easier to sustain. Individuals, worldwide, are asked to post photos of themselves with a personalized whiteboard describing why they choose to get active.
The event was hosted by the Congressional Fitness Caucus and sponsored by our friends at IHRSA. The Fitness Caucus is chaired by two members who are passionate about fitness and both regularly engage in physical activity: Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) and Congressman Aaron Shock (R-IL). Congressional caucuses are best described as special interest groups that allow like-minded legislators to share thoughts and ideas on a given topic. There are hundreds of these organizations that cover a wide variety of topics. They include the partisan such as the Democrat or Republican Caucuses, the cultural and ethnic such as the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus, many disease prevention-related ones such as the Diabetes and Cancer Caucuses and the somewhat obscure such as the Cement Caucus.
ACE staff spoke with participants about the important role that qualified fitness professionals and health coaches play in healthcare and introduced them to the Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals (C-REP). Exercise resistance bands were awarded to those that participated in our “Does it REALLY Do That?” trivia game featuring questions based on ACE’s independent consumer-based research. Staffers enjoyed the challenge of deciding whether statements such as “The highly touted, sold on TV, workout P90X meets or exceeds established fitness industry standards for losing weight and improving cardiorespiratory fitness when done as directed.” were true or false (in case you are wondering…true!) or deciding if Zumba is a high-energy aerobic workout, can improve core strength and/or is good for increasing flexibility (all three!).
Policy and advocacy work at the Federal level is similar, in some ways, to the work that exercise professionals do in that success is contingent to developing relationships—in policy work, the relationships are with members of Congress and their staff. Events such as the Health Policy Fair afford ACE staff an excellent opportunity to introduce the organization, our professionals and resources to a number of Congressional offices in a less-formal setting than a briefing or office visit.