Many Americans do not meet current minimum physical activity recommendations. Although the choice to be physically active is made by individuals, that choice is affected by the social and physical environments in which people live, work, play and learn. Creating environments that are more supportive of physical activity will require policies, practices and programs that individuals may not be able to influence on their own; such changes will require comprehensive, coordinated and collaborative action by a variety of organizational sectors at national, state and local levels. Because of their core—and frequently unique—competencies, many non-profit organizations are poised to be active players in promoting important changes in policy and community environments that can facilitate lifelong physical activity for all Americans.
Review of mission statements and strategic plans of a variety of non-profit organizations reveal key characteristics and competencies that can be leveraged, frequently across multiple levels and sectors, to promote physical activity.
Nonprofit organizations should leverage their unique capabilities, particularly in the areas of advocacy, strategic collaborations and outreach to their membership, volunteer and/or constituent bases to promote policy and environmental changes in support of physical activity.
The author is with the Dept of Cancer Control Science, American Cancer Society, Inc, Atlanta, GA.