By Annette “Dr. Z” Zaharoff, MD

The new U.S. National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) was unveiled this Spring, an update of a plan rolled out in 2010 as an ambitious, yet attainable, initiative to engage Americans to be more physically active.

NPAP is a comprehensive effort to involve governmental and non-governmental entities, and for-profit and non-profit groups at the local, state and national levels, to work together to increase physical activity levels in all segments of the population.

In presenting the 2016 plan, Russell Pate, Ph.D., chairman of the nonprofit coalition of health groups known as the NPAP Alliance, said that “because of this public-private initiative, we are multiple steps closer to our initial vision: one day, all Americans will be physically active, and they will live, work and play in environments that encourage and support regular physical activity.”

Pate also singled out the lone community in the nation that adapted the NPAP – San Antonio.

As chair of the Active Living Council of San Antonio, I’m very proud of the work we put in to develop the Active Living Plan for a Healthier San Antonio. It was a public and private sector collaboration to guide policy makers, funding decision makers, program providers and community members to implement specific strategies and tactics to increase physical activity and active living in San Antonio. Its ultimate purpose is to improve health, prevent disease and disability, and enhance quality of life.

The importance of these efforts cannot be understated. Research shows that physical inactivity is associated with increased risk of 25 chronic diseases. The risk of getting coronary artery disease or stroke jumps by 45 percent to 60 percent, respectively.  Some 334,000 deaths every year in the United States are caused, at least in part, by an inactive lifestyle, according to the AHA Science Advisory.

Focusing on prevention instead of treatment is crucial to getting Americans’ health back on track. The most readily available, no-cost way to do that is through physical activity.

Soon, the Active Living Council will re-group to review the latest updates to the National Physical Activity Plan. Joining us in the conversation will be our new partners at the Bexar County Health Collaborative. We are excited to have them work with us as we approach two new sectors — Faith-based Settings and Sport – to incorporate into other sectors already addressed in the San Antonio plan: Business and Industry ; Community Recreation, Fitness and Parks; Education; Health Care; Mass Media; Public Health; Transportation, Land Use and Community Design.

Physical activity levels are influenced by a wide variety of factors, such as where a person lives and the kinds of accessible resources that are available, such as parks, walking trails and exercise classes. Both the local and national physical activity plans address ways to overcome rampant health disparities that can keep individuals from becoming active.

At the local level, the bi-annual Siclovia outdoor festival that encourages healthy activities by blocking off portions of busy streets and opening them to pedestrians, cyclists and others is one example of how San Antonio is becoming a healthier community. On a much more regular basis, Fitness in the Park activities are scheduled to get people outside and engaged in Zumba, pilates and other exercise classes. You can find a full schedule of events on

We look forward to sharing with you some other concrete steps to influence decision-makers and everyday people to help the community become more active. Together, we hope to continue to lead the way in promoting a healthier San Antonio, a healthier Texas, and a healthier nation.

Dr. Annette “Dr. Z” Zaharoff heads the Non-Surgical Center of Texas, focusing on non-surgical treatments to relieve pain and repair injuries. A former professional tennis player who competed on the WTA circuit, Dr. Zaharoff remains actively involved with the US Tennis Association. Learn more about her at You can follow her on Facebook at