Last week the United States Surgeon General, Vivek H. Murthy, held a lecture at the annual meeting of the American College of Sport Medicine (ACSM) about his Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities.
In his initiative to improve the health of the American people he stated that he aimed to walk the talk by implementing the best science for the benefit of the society. He wants to help people of all ages protect and improve their health and reduce risk of obesity and disease through regular physical activity and a healthy diet.
To put this plan into action, several cities have already made healthy food more and unhealthy food less affordable in restaurants and school canteens. Furthermore, environment that stimulates physical activity participation, such as walkways have been and are being built in the cities. Nationwide, annual competition for the fittest city in the US has been initiated. This was designed to motivate people to be more physically active. These activities, which are carried out under the leadership of city majors, should become a model for the rest of the communities.
His plan is to change the attitudes and make physical activity a habit in daily life.
In his endeavor, he collaborates with the ACSM and the Exercise is Medicine organization which includes thousand of general practitioners and health personnel. Their role is to continuously remind the society of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular physical activity and a healthy diet.
Read also: CitySmart in Brisbane
Murthy leads by example. He implements exercise into his busy schedule. Although it is challenging for him to have a steady weekly exercise routine, he aims to walk as much as possible. A couple of times a week he goes for a run or a swim to get his heart pumping.
After the lecture we approached Murthy and he was generous to spend some time with us and discuss how his ideas could be translated to the Norwegian society. He got excited when we told him about the translational research approach at CERG, asked many good questions and had a lot of interesting input. After speaking to the head of CERG, Dr. Ulrik Wisløff about CERGs scientific approach he was in particular impressed by the Generation 100 study, which focuses on older adults. He promised to follow the Generation 100 study in research publications and in the media. Atefe Tari told him about a new and exciting research initiative on which we are currently working. It includes studies of exercise in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and depression, both conditions that are expected to increase with the changing demographics worldwide. Murthy highlighted that the failure rate of medical trials in patients with Alzheimer´s disease is close to 100% and that treatment options for this disease are very much lacking. He also said that too few research groups around the world focus on effects of physical activity as a treatment option. He liked our approach and said that he believed that our research could improve understanding of how one can most effectively improve health in the general population and in these patient groups.
For CERG it was a great honor to discuss with him and hear about how he will make it easier for people to take healthy lifestyle choices, and change the attitude of the American people to take more responsibility of their own health. So let’s stop talking the talk and start walking the walk. Hope you join us!