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Fighting Fat with Fun! America’s Public Lands and Waters Michael Suk, MD JD MPH FCLM White House Fellow U. S. Department of the Interior
Facts We Know • The United States is facing an epidemic of chronic disease • Much of which is preventable and can be directly linked to physical inactivity
Public Health 101 • 95% of the 1. 4 trillion dollars spent on health care goes to direct medical services • 5% is allocated to preventing disease and promoting health and healthy lifestyles • Obesity is the #1 health threat to Americans surpassing tobacco for the very first time! • Is Obesity the next Tobacco?
The Future • Fat Kids! – 10% of 2 -5 year olds – 15% of 6 -19 year olds • Roper ASW – Participation decreasing
America’s Public Lands and Waters: The Gateway to Better Health?
Executive Order 13266 The framework for unprecedented coordination
Healthier. US Based on the premise that increasing personal fitness and becoming healthier is critical to achieving a better and longer life.
4 Principles • Be Physically Active Every Day • Eat a Nutritious Diet • Get Preventive Screenings • Make Healthy Choices
Problem and Opportunity • Healthier. US is not widely known • Despite the mandate for land water management agency involvement, we have not capitalized on the full potential of collaboration… • Resulting in some missed opportunities…
National Trails Day June, 2002 2004
A Fundamental “Disconnect” • Physical Activity = EXERCISE • The exercise message fails to connect with the audience that need it most…
What is “Exercise”? Exercise is a process whereby the body performs work of a demanding nature… in a clinically-controlled environment… meaningfully loading the muscular structures… to stimulate a growth mechanism within minimum time. Ken Hutchins, Super Slow®: The ULTIMATE Exercise Protocol, 2 nd Ed. © 1992
What is “Recreation”? Recreation is the refreshment of health or spirits by relaxation and enjoyment or an activity or pastime that promotes this. The Collins English Dictionary © 2000
“Recreational Activity” • The physical and mental health benefits of “recreational activity” are well documented
Natural Cure for the Blues • 80% - 90% of outdoor participants – Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment – Feel the natural setting allows them to escape the pressures of everyday life – Believe it keeps then feeling young – Feel it allows them to connect with themselves *Exploring the Active Lifestyle, Prepared for Outdoor Industry Foundation by Harris Interactive, Copyright 2004.
What Brings a Peaceful State of Mind? Men Women Nature 37% 53% Sex 27% 15% Payday 8% 13%
The Bottom Line • ANY activity above sedentary is beneficial • However, the “exercise” message lingers in most minds and has failed to resonate with the recreation community. Obesity experts to docs: Start 'prescribing' exercise February 10, 2004
Bridging the Gap • Between those who will seek out “recreation” but will seldom seek opportunities to “exercise” • Linking the concepts: – “light to moderate physical activity” – “recreational activity”
What is Physical Activity? • Physical activity can be broken down into 3 cultural functions: – Necessary to fulfill obligations of paid work, household work, personal care and child care – Undertaken as a specific means to improve health or to escape negative health consequences – Inherently part of a pleasurable leisure experience
Enjoyment is the Key It would appear that, in the next few decades, the greatest potential to increase human movement in daily life will be by increasing participation in physical activity which is inherently part of a pleasurable leisure experience and has meaning aside from exercise. In other words, leisure, play, recreation, sport, contact with nature, etc.
Gateway to Better Health • Hiking, biking and camping have the greatest longevity that any of the human powered outdoor activities* • People who enjoy these activities are more likely to try – – – – Climbing Downhill skiing Snowboarding Kayaking Cross-country skiing Trail running Snow shoeing Volunteering *Exploring the Active Lifestyle, Prepared for Outdoor Industry Foundation by Harris Interactive, Copyright 2004.
Volunteering Those who volunteer on environmental projects are nearly 3 times (2. 7) more likely to be meeting recommended levels of physical activity
Most popular activities among American travelers Source: Travel. Scope, 2002
Secret to Success? Start Young! • 90% of active adult participants started between the ages of 5 and 18* • The average Americans start their favorite activity is 18 years old. * • Personal challenges and health benefits are what keep people active throughout their lives* • If a person becomes involved in one activity, that they will be interested in other activities, thus raising their activity throughout their life. * *Exploring the Active Lifestyle, Prepared for Outdoor Industry Foundation by Harris Interactive, Copyright 2004.
Opening the Doors Wider at America’s Public Lands… • Unmatched distribution network for a common heath related message • The nexus for unprecedented collaboration between unconventional partners • Economies of scale by providing federal partners access to recreation venues and vice versa
But not so wide… • We should not create the health care message • We should not retrain employees to become health care experts • We should not compromise the primary mission of stewardship of public lands
Achieving Balance • Provide the necessary information on where recreation opportunities exist • Provide the essential link to state and local governmental sites and initiatives • Provide the nexus for unconventional partnerships • Provide a network for communication which touches individual lives
Seizing Opportunity • Increased utilization of refuges, lakes, trails, and parks • Enhanced stewardship of public lands • Positive public image • Health care messaging is among the most effective way to reach a public audience • Encourage the public to see land water management agencies in a different, and very positive light
It’s not just about caring for the public lands… It’s about caring for the people who use them
The Federal Family