Health

Walking Keeps America on a Healthy Path

The following is a post submitted by America Walks and published in New Jersey Public Health Association’s Spring 2016 Newsletter. The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Less than 50% of Americans meet the minimum guidelines for moderate physical activity. Walking can be the easiest and most affordable way to correct this problem and can provide numerous other benefits. Many health professionals cite physical activity, including walking, as a way to improve health in people of all ages; some research shows that increasing walking by less than 1 mile each day leads to a reduced chance of obesity. For children, walking to school has been shown to be good for cognitive health and learning ability: It improves concentration, boosts mood and alertness, and enhances memory. Walking is also important for older adults or people with disabilities who might have fewer opportunities to participate in sports or formal exercise programs.

Good physical and mental health is not the only benefit of walking. The individual and community benefits of walking affect safety, social equity, the environment, and economics. Walkable neighborhoods have much lower rates of traffic fatalities – for both pedestrians and motorists – compared with automobile-oriented areas. And walkable neighborhoods have lower overall transportation costs, which lead to lower foreclosure rates.

In September 2015, the Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, launched Step it Up! A Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities. This campaign urges all Americans to make walking part of their daily activity and to take steps to make every community in America a great place to walk. Professionals who work in (and with) the physical activity and health communities can help make this a reality by encouraging walking as a part of daily exercise and continuing to call for safe, accessible, and enjoyable places for everyone.

Further information on Step It Up! can be found here.