More than half of U.S. adults do not meet national recommendations for regular physical activity, despite the health benefits for lowering the risk for obesity and chronic disease. People often face barriers to physical activity such as unsafe neighborhoods, limited access to parks, and lack of sidewalks. Addressing the social and environmental factors that support or discourage physical activity is important to forming healthy communities.
The Physical Activity and Policy Research Network (PAPRN) aims to increase levels of physical activity within communities. Researchers collaborate across disciplines and with community organizations to address physical activity policy across local, state, and national levels. Network members work to make physical activity a priority in settings such as schools and workplaces.
The network is creating a pilot project focusing on disseminating evidence-based physical education policies in schools, including extending the duration of physical education classes or encouraging teachers to build activity into regular class time. Network partners are comparing the characteristics of schools that adopt the policies with those of schools that do not. Researchers are working with national and local partners to develop toolkits to help school systems implement and evaluate these programs.