US Surgeon General's Healthy People Goals

#1 Health Priority

The number-one priority of the government's "Healthy People" campaign is to increase physical activity. The message that exercise is crucial for health and general well-being is reaching an ever-widening audience.

Kids and Adults Not Getting Enough Physical Activity

The statistics are startling and disturbing: 4.7 million children aged 6-17 were overweight in 1991, up 15% in just ten years; 98% of 7-12 year olds have at least one risk factor (high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, excess body fat) for heart disease. Fewer than one in four children get 30 minutes of any type of physical activity - moderate or vigorous - every day.

Professor William Kish, Chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Nutrition Committee, calls this youthful trend toward inactivity and obesity "an epidemic."

"Numerous studies confirm that physically active students perform notably better on exams than less active children," states Dr. Carla Hannaford in her acclaimed book Smart Moves. "It is essential to the learning process to allow children to explore every aspect of movement and balance." Physical fitness carries so many ancillary benefits—a reduction in the risk of illness and injury, and the promotion of academic performance, leadership and positive behavior— exercise is critical.

"Baby boomers (now aged 36 to 54) and even older adults…turn to exercise not for its own sake but for how it helps them function. They want to continue performing well in their favorite sports, for example, or enjoy adventure travel, play with their grandchildren or be more effective at work," said Gregg Hartley, vice president of SGMA." An advertising slogan from Schwinn put it this way: "Keep up with your kids. And their kids." Athlon's tagline reads: "Life is an event. Get ready."[JumpSport Note: Balance, co-ordination, spatial awareness, reaction speed, and agility degenerate with lack of use, especially in adults. Yet these skills are essential for athletic performance and even for simple day to day tasks. Standard "2-dementional" exercise equipment does not effectively maintain and improve these building blocks of athleticism, but the "3-dementional fitness space"—provided by JumpSport® trampolines—does... and it's fun for the whole family!]

#1 Indicator of Health

What is the "epidemic" of our times? It could be lack of exercise, obesity or a disease that's related to both: diabetes. All three have been so described recently by health-care officials and are under attack in the widely publicized Healthy People 2010 goals announced in January by the Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services. The 10 leading indicators of health in the nation, said the Surgeon General, are physical activity, obesity, tobacco use, substance abuse, responsible sexual behavior, mental health, injuries and violence, environmental quality, immunization and access to health care.

It seems significant that "physical activity" was listed first--the most important indicator of the nation's health. One of the key goals for Healthy People 2010 is to increase from 15% to 30% the proportion of people who exercise five or more days a week (New York Times, Feb. 1, 2000).

Being inactive contributes to at least 17 chronic diseases and is responsible for 250,000 deaths a year, writes biologist Frank Booth in the Journal of Applied Physiology. Only cigarette smoking kills more people (400,000), and more people die from lack of exercise than from alcohol, firearms, illicit drugs and motor vehicle accidents combined. Lack of activity is a "modern plague," Booth says, calling for national attention to the problem--as well as more money for research. He has formed an advocacy group, Scientists Against Inactivity-Related Diseases. (Kansas City Star, Feb. 21, 2000)

The SGMA Fitness and Sports Letter is published six times a year by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), a non-profit trade association. SGMA encourages you to make copies of any portion of the letter.

Paul A. Aleskovsky
Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association