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Community infrastructure can encourage physical activity

Road sign of pedestrianCommunities can take part in encouraging physical activity, simply by changing their environments. In fact, a December 2012 mid-course report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) noted that communities could make changes to their area and built environment that would encourage the physical activity of youth. The report’s suggestions include:

  • Improve land-use mix to increase the number of walk-able and bike-able destinations.
  • Increase residential density so people could use methods other than driving to reach places they need or want to visit.
  • Implement “traffic calming” measures such as speed bumps or traffic circles to make it safer for pedestrians and bike riders.
  • Increase the accessibility, proximity and number of parks and recreation facilities.
  • Improve walking and biking infrastructure, such as sidewalks, bike lanes and multi-use trails.
  • Improve pedestrian safety structures, like traffic lights.
  • Make neighborhoods more walk-able.
  • Increase vegetation, like trees along streets.
  • Decrease traffic speed and volume to encourage walking and biking.
  • Reduce what’s perceived as unsightly or dangerous, like litter or vacant or poorly maintained lots.

To read this December 2012 HHS report in its entirety, visit www.health.gov/paguidelines/midcourse/pag-mid-course-report-final.pdf