Active Living - Past, Present, and Future

Implications for the Field

This commentary argues that a multidisciplinary approach is an essential ingredient for achieving community change and vitality. Because active living is not a central issue of any one discipline, public health must influence other disciplines to integrate active living within the context of their respective missions.

As the paradigm and practice of active living evolves, it is becoming more inclusive of approaches originating from the design, engineering and planning disciplines. Public health has an opportunity to define a leadership role by informing community partnerships how they can make appropriate investments in transportation, land use and design that promote active living.

Implications for the field include:

  • Building a common vision across disciplines could increase the likelihood that policies and investments will consider the impacts on health.
  • Branding active living as a fundamental ingredient to promoting healthy communities is an important step to grow this movement.
  • The 5P model (preparation, promotions, programs, policies and physical projects) could guide the mapping of intellectual assets and how to best use them.
  • To grow this paradigm, partnerships should provide cross-training venues that present opportunities to share lessons learned, emerging practices and continuing education.

Active living has great potential to unite varied interests to improve places and the health of people but it has been a challenging issue for planners, engineers, architects and public health professionals to advance. Success will require efforts to reinforce and change public policy through a new paradigm that incorporates systematic marketing, field building and policy change.