State Legislation Related to Increasing Physical Activity: 2006-2012

J Phys Act Health. 2016 Feb;13(2):207-13. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2015-0010. Epub 2015 Jun 23.


Background: Strategies to improve physical activity prevalence often include policy and environmental changes. State-level policies can be influential in supporting access and opportunities for physical activity in schools and communities. The purpose of this study was to explore the prevalence of state legislation related to physical activity and identify the correlates of enactment of this legislation.

Methods: An online legislative database was used to collect bills from 50 states in the U.S. from 2006 to 2012 for 1010 topics related to physical activity. Bills were coded for content and compiled into a database with state-level variables (eg, obesity prevalence). With enactment status as the outcome, bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted.

Results: Of the 1,542 bills related to physical activity introduced, 30% (N = 460) were enacted. Bills on public transportation and trails were more likely to be enacted than those without these topics. Primary sponsorship by the Republican Party, bipartisan sponsorship, and mention of specific funding amounts were also correlates of enactment.

Conclusion: Policy surveillance of bills and correlates of enactment are important for understanding patterns in legislative support for physical activity. This information can be used to prioritize advocacy efforts and identify ways for research to better inform policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity*
  • Multilevel Analysis
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Physical Education and Training / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Schools
  • United States