In episode 16, we’re joined by Dr. Laurie Whitsel of the Physical Activity Alliance (PAA). This discussion focuses primarily around the role public policy can play in making the healthy choices easier and the unhealthy choices hard. In this case, the choice of being active. So often fitness and wellness professionals focus on their microenvironment of their fitness center, clinic, or individual clients. While is absolutely necessary, it is not sufficient if we are to make a significant change in population health. We need an entire ecosystem that supports healthy choices and diminishes access to unhealthy choices.
This is where government policy can play a strong role in improving the health of population. Groups like the PAA advocate on a federal level to ensure physical infrastructure and policy support our health outcomes. It is through this advocacy that policy changes are made shaping our physical environments to support health and wellbeing. Lastly, and importantly, this podcast discusses how you can take an active role in advocacy at the local, state, and federal level.
Our Guest: Dr. Laurie Whitsel, Ph.D. FAHA
Laurie Whitsel, Ph.D. is a senior advisor for the Physical Activity Alliance. She is also the Vice President of Policy Research and Translation for the American Heart Association (AHA), helping to translate science into policy at a national level in the areas of cardiovascular disease and stroke prevention and health promotion. She also serves as senior advisor to the Physical Activity Alliance, leading efforts to create, support, and advocate policy and system changes that enable all Americans to enjoy physically active lives. Whitsel has served on expert advisory groups with RAND, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She has been a sector co-leader for the National Physical Activity Plan and leads the AHA’s internal strategic plan around physical activity. She holds a Ph.D. from Syracuse University, gives regular guest lectures at Columbia University, and is a Fellow and member of the AHA’s National Scientific Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health.
Whitsel lives in Ligonier, PA with her husband Brad, and they have two children, Christian, who attends Gettysburg College, and Amy, who is in law school at Catholic University. In her spare time, Whitsel coaches an AHA jump rope demonstration and competition team, which promotes lifetime physical activity for kids.
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