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Healthy Caribbean Coalition - Putting physical activity into public health: A historical perspective from the CDC

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Putting physical activity into public health: A historical perspective from the CDC

As we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century, physical activity (PA) has taken its rightful place in the mainstream of public health. Fifty years of epidemiologic and clinical studies have clearly documented a broad range of important health benefits associated with regular PA (USDHHS 1996).

Over the last decade this science base has coalesced into public health recommendations (USDHHS 2008) and policy for physical activity as an integral part of chronic disease prevention and health promotion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has played a central role in almost every major step along this path — moving science, policy and practice from exercise and fitness to PA and health. When this process began, exercise was the purview of a handful of enthusiasts (marathoners and epidemiologists alike).

Today PA is central to good public health practice globally, nationally and ever so gradually at the state and local levels. However, much remains to be done to ensure that attention and resource allocation within public health systems match the health and economic burdens of PA (Pratt et al., 2000).

Pratt, M., et al., Putting physical activity into public health: A historical perspective from the CDC, Prev. Med. (2009), doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.06.011

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