Elevating Physical Activity as a Public Health Priority: Establishing Core Competencies for Physical Activity Practitioners in Public Health

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Physical activity has emerged as a vital area of public health. This emerging area of public health practice has created a need to develop practitioners who can address physical activity promotion using population-based approaches. Variations in physical activity practitioners' educations and backgrounds warranted the creation of minimal standards to establish the competencies needed to address physical activity as a public health priority.

Methods:

The content knowledge of physical activity practitioners tends to fall into 2 separate areas—population-based community health education and individually focused exercise physiology. Competencies reflect the importance of a comprehensive approach to physical activity promotion, including areas of community health while also understanding the physiologic responses occurring at the individual level.

Results:

Competencies are organized under the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's 5 benchmarks for physical activity and public health practice.

Conclusions:

The greatest impact on physical activity levels may be realized from a well-trained workforce of practitioners. Utilization of the competencies will enable the physical activity practitioner to provide technical assistance and leadership to promote, implement, and oversee evaluation of physical activity interventions.

Dallman is with the Environmental Health Section, Saint Paul – Ramsey County Dept of Public Health, St. Paul, MN. Abercrombie is with the Arkansas Dept of Health, Benton, AR. Drewette-Card is with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Augusta, ME. Mohan is with the Nutrition and Physical Activity Unit, Massachusetts Dept of Public Health, Boston, MA. Ray is with the Nebraska Dept of Health and Human Services, Lincoln, NE. Ritacco is with the Oregon Dept of Human Services, Portland, OR.