As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the American Council on Exercise is urging Congress to advance new policies that promote 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,” wrote ACE vice president of mission and innovation in an open letter to Congress. “Investing in physical activity, which has been shown to prevent and treat chronic diseases, is more important than ever.”
The letter goes on to note that the CDC has found that physically active people generally live longer and are at less risk for chronic disease, including obesity which affects more than 30 percent 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 percent of adult Americans meet the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines. These conditions are costly to our healthcare systems and adversely impact productivity, military readiness and quality of life for Americans.
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.