A Walking Revolution: Exercise is Medicine, 13 Ways to Get People Moving in 2013

Submitted by Brent Hugh on Fri, 03/22/2013 – 7:53am

A new report by the new national EveryBody Walk Collaborative, A Walking Revolution: A Movement Making Americans Happier and Healthier addresses the power of walking and walkability for health, business, community, schools, and the environment.

This report is the outcome of a December 2012 meeting that brought together more than 140 representatives from pro-walking organizations. A centerpiece of the meeting was the announcement of a Call to Action on Walking from US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA.

A few excerpts from the new report:

Exercise is Medicine
A spate of articles from leading medical journals, collected by the American College of Sports Medicine as part of their Exercise Is Medicine campaign, highlights the advantages of walking and other forms of moderate physical activity in curbing major diseases. Among the findings about physical activity:

  • Reduces the incidence of heart disease and high blood pressure by approximately 40 percent (American Journal of Epidemiology)
  • Reduces the mortality and risk of recurrent breast cancer by 50 percent. (Journal of the American Medical Association)
  • Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s by approximately 40 percent (Annals of Internal Medicine)
  • Lowers the risk of stroke by 27 percent (Journal of the American Medical Association)
  • Lowers the risk of developing Type II diabetes by approximately 50 percent (Annals of Internal Medicine)
  • Lowers the risk of colon cancer by more than 60 percent (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise)
  • Decreases depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy (American Journal of Preventive Medicine)
  • A low level of physical fitness is a bigger risk factor for mortality than mild-to-moderate obesity (Journal of the American MedicalAssociation)
13 Ways To Get People Moving in 2013
How To Encourage Everyone To Walk
1. Take a Walk Today. Invite friends and family to take a walk with you this week. Stroll with your dog or a neighbor. Host a walking meeting at work. Use public transit, as most trips begin and/or end with a walk.
2. Visit the Every Body Walk! website for information, inspiration, tools and compelling videos. Make your organization a partner. For more information, see www.Everybodywalk.org.
3. Get involved with us to help Americans walk more and to make your community more walkable. Write info@AmericaWalks.org
How To Make Your Community More Walkable
4. Speak Up for Active Transportation Infrastructure: It’s important that national, state and local investments in transportation improve walking, bicycling, public transit and other forms of active transportation.
5. Create Complete Streets: Show your support for state, regional and local Complete Streets policies, which provide for “routine accommodation” of pedestrians and bicyclists on roadways. This can be accomplished with sidewalks, better crossings, pedestrian lighting and other safety features. For more information, click here.
6. Reduce Traffic Speed: Cut speed limits and help drivers drive safely by installing traffic calming devices, especially around schools, town centers, business districts and workplaces.
7. Promote Safe Routes: Launch a Safe Routes to School program in your community — so kids, teachers, and staff can walk to and from school. Also, ensure that physical activity is built into every student’s school day. For more information see SafeRoutesPartnership.org
8. Encourage Walking at Work: Start a trend by introducing walking meetings at your job. Suggest that employers create incentives to reward people who commute by foot, bike and public transit.
9. Celebrate Walking: Help stage public events and meet ups — such as a stroll with the mayor — which emphasize the health, economic, environmental and social benefits of walking.
10. Improve Maps and Signage: Post signs showing how close it is to get to destinations on foot, and create easy-to-use walking maps for your town and region. For an example of maps, click here; for signs click here.
11. Walk Your Talk: Work with neighbors and local officials to increase pedestrian space in the streets with parklets, play streets, open streets or walking malls for shopping.
12. Make the Streets Safer: Organize community groups to walk the streets, working with law enforcement and media to ensure that walking is, and is perceived as, a safe and enjoyable option.
13. Get Creative: The best way to generate good ideas is, of course, to take a walk.
Whatever you do, walk! Better yet, bring a friend or two.

Download the full report here (PDF format).