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Harold W. Kohl III, Ashleigh M. Johnson, Erin E. Dooley, Brooke Towner, Russell R. Pate, Kurt Heischmidt, and Eloise M. Elliott

The prevalence and attributable risk of disease due to physical inactivity require it to be made a public health priority. Public health planning allows for prioritization and resource allocation, particularly at the state and local levels. The extent to which state planning efforts for physical activity exist in the United States is unknown. The purpose of this paper is to describe the scope in which physical activity is incorporated in state-level public health plans in the United States, with an emphasis on alignment with the national guidelines and the National Physical Activity Plan. A standardized internet search audit was developed and conducted for each of 50 US states and the District of Columbia between May 2017 and January 2018 to determine the prevalence and characteristics of health planning documents that include physical activity. Data abstracted for analysis used a standardized search protocol that included the components of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and the US National Physical Activity Plan. Results found that most states had between 4 and 6 chronic disease prevention and control plans that mention physical activity; however, it was inconsistently aligned with recommendations from both the Guidelines and the National Plan. Only 2 states had stand-alone public health planning documents explicitly dedicated to physical activity promotion. No state planning documents addressed children and adolescents, adults, and older adults simultaneously. To be maximally effective, state public health planning for physical activity should be made a priority and these efforts should align as much as possible with current guidance from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and the US National Physical Activity Plan.