Researchers Review State Policies on Promoting Walking and Biking - Identify Five with Greatest Potential to Work

Tracking state policies that require physical activity in school curricula

From December 2001 through October 2002, staff from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) collected and analyzed information on state statutes and policies that promote walking and biking for physical activity.

From December 2002 through November 2003, NCSL's Health Policy Tracking Service surveyed and reported on federal and state policies and actions regarding physical education in schools.

Key Results

  • In a report entitled Promoting Walking and Biking: The Legislative Role, the NCSL noted that five of 18 identified policies have the greatest potential to increase walking and biking:

    • Incorporating sidewalks and bike lanes into community design.
    • Providing funding for biking and walking in highway projects.
    • Establishing safe routes to school.
    • Fostering traffic-calming measures.
    • Creating incentives for mixed-use development.
  • In a report entitled Physical Education, project staff reported that:

    • As of 2003, 22 states had statutes mandating that schools offer physical education programs as part of the school curriculum.
    • Eighteen states specifically require physical education to be taught in high school. Physical education in high school is optional in three states.
    • The U.S. Congress passed legislation in 2000 authorizing the Secretary of Education to award grants to states to help initiate, expand and improve physical education programs for students in grades K–12.
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided funding to 12 states to develop and implement nutrition and physical activity goals to prevent chronic diseases, especially obesity.