Walk, don't drive! Community promotion of physical activity has 2-fold benefit

August 3, 2009

About half of the car trips in the U.S. are less than five miles—a distance easily navigated by walking or cycling. Reducing short-distance car trips has many benefits—it decreases car accidents, has positive benefits for the environment and increases physical health and activity, says communication professor Edward Maibach of George Mason University. An expert in climate change communication research, Maibach says that community leaders should make promotion of physical activity a priority.

"There are lots of proven low-cost options that communities can use to encourage people to get out of their cars and walk or ride instead," he says. "Use of these options helps people remain healthy (by promoting and reducing obesity) and helps reduce heat-trapping pollutants that cause global warming."

In a recent article in the journal Preventative Medicine, Maibach suggests that policy makers and government officials at all levels should look at communication, marketing and policy enhancements that can be implemented with relative ease to promote active transport.

Maibach cites the Web site Active Living by Design (http://www.activelivingbydesign.org/) as showcasing many examples of successful programs such as city-bike sharing, customized walking or cycling maps and grassroots campaigns.

"One of my favorite examples is 'walking school buses' in which children and a few parents walk together to the local school," says Maibach.

He also suggests policy changes such as reducing speed limits, giving cyclists priority at intersections and closing some roads to cars, can also encourage people to consider alternative ways of commuting.

"There is no one magic bullet. All of these examples can be effective here in the U.S., and all should be implemented in as many communities as possible. The more that are implemented, the more we will wean people away from sole reliance on their cars when they could be walking and/or riding, and improving their health as a result."

Source: George Mason University

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.