Chapter 11

Regular Physical Activity: A Prescription for Lifelong Health in the Community

Philip Haberstro, Lynn Rivers and Mary Stottele

Abstract

There is overwhelming evidence for both the individual and societal benefits of a physically active lifestyle on maintaining high quality of life, decreasing the economic burden of sickness care spending, and reducing risk factors associated with non-communicable diseases. A 60 year historical review of the physical activity movement in the United States reveals movement from a focus on physical fitness as a means for readiness to serve in the military, to a dose/response prescription approach to physical activity for all ages, to the current evolution of an active living approach at the community level. There is evidence in many countries of the economic, human, social, and environmental benefits of a physically active community at both the societal level and all age levels: youth, adults, and older adults however a civic engagement process is necessary to develop a more physically active community and thus obtain these incredible benefits. There are ten key steps in the civic change process that any community can utilize to engage its citizens in a more physically active and healthful lifestyle. The steps rely on civic engagement, trust building, and sustaining community support. There are a host of websites and further reading to supplement the reader’s knowledge of current physical activity research, movements, and community engagement efforts.

Total Pages: 163-191 (29)

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