It's time to "Get America Moving." The Sporting Goods Manufacturer's Association will host the 10th National Health Through Fitness Day this March, where more than 100 sports and fitness industry leaders will lobby on Capitol Hill and ask Congress to support American health and fitness.
In that spirit, The Active Network is partnering with SGMA as a key sponsor of the event's morning briefing. "The Active Network is passionate about encouraging and enabling participation in activities and events, and National Health Through Fitness Day embodies our mission perfectly," said Jon Belmonte, COO of The Active Network.
Sports and fitness industry leaders will lobby for the passage of two legislative initiatives to help all Americans--not just children--become more fit. One initiative would provide additional funding for grants to school districts and community-based organizations to support innovative physical education and activity methods. The second initiative is a tax incentive to make it more affordable to play sports and engage in physical fitness and recreation activities.
"Every kid and every American should have a chance to lead an active--and more importantly--healthy lifestyle," said Jim Baugh, a member of the SGMA board of directors and founder of PE 4 Life. "There's only one way to make sure we give every person a chance to learn how to do that, and that's through schools. Kids should learn how to be active just like they learn to read and write."
Baugh, a longtime volunteer for National Health Through Fitness Day, said that without these programs, kids can be consumed by television, the Internet and other distractions that cause them to be sedentary.
"When I was a young child, physical education and activity was a significant part of my daily schedule," said bestselling author and coach Jenny Hadfield. "Budget cuts have unfortunately cut out teaching the importance of fitness and health, and that has had an unfortunate effect on our youth. The only way to make significant change is to educate early and often, and return physical education as a primary component in the daily curriculum."
Hadfield, who is also co-owner of Chicago Endurance Sports, has coached hundreds of people through newfound fitness journeys, most recently with the First Marathon Team members of Active.com's Who Wants to Get Active program.
Obesity in America
More than one-third of U.S. adults--more than 72 million people--are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We believe that obesity is one of the most important long-term challenges to the health of our nation," Belmonte said. He also noted that obesity keeps medical costs rising while decreasing the population's general morale and motivation.
"Obesity is at an all-time high, and we are just now beginning to realize the consequences," Hadfield said. "Living an active lifestyle is the key to the quality of life. Our bodies are made to move, and regular activity allows us to live our best every day."
How You Can Help
Not able to make it to Washington, DC to lobby? No problem. Take up the fight against obesity in your own life and your hometown. Here are some tips:
- Contact your local government officials. Ask your congressmen, congresswomen and senators to support these initiatives, more commonly known as the Physical Education Program (PEP) Act and the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act.
- Find an activity you enjoy. Don't like running? Try yoga. Can't make a three-point shot? Try tennis. As long as you get off the couch, you'll be in better shape. Find inspiration from the Who Wants to Get Active program that features 16 men and women as they work to reach their fitness goals in 2009.
- Sign up. Commit to a fitness club, a spin class or an upcoming race to help you stay motivated to exercise.
- Make fitness a family event. Build an active lifestyle with your family. From camping trips to bike rides, find out how to get the whole family involved.