Despite the far-reaching benefits of physical activity, most Americans do not meet the current public health guidelines. At the population level, physical activity is challenging to assess because it is a complex, multidimensional behavior that varies by type, intensity, setting, motives, and environmental and social influences. Surveillance of physical activity is a core public health function necessary to measure and analyze the prevalence of physical activity at a population level. To support public health, there is a need to develop and implement surveillance systems that effectively integrate measurement of specific physical activity behaviors (like walking) with assessment of environmental factors that influence physical activity behavior (such as the walkability of communities).
With support from the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a committee to develop strategies to support the implementation of recommended actions to improve national physical activity surveillance. The resulting report, Implementing Strategies to Enhance Public Health Surveillance of Physical Activity in the United States, outlines the committee’s 22 strategies and supporting actions for implementation.