CDC Vital Signs: Walking

Aug 7, 2012, 2:22 PM

The August Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vital Signs monthly report on health indicators focuses on adult walking and finds that 62 percent of U.S. adults get their physical activity by walking at least once for ten minutes or more per week, up from 56 percent n the 2005. However, close to 50 percent of adults don’t get enough physical activity to improve their health, the report finds. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week, such as brisk walking.

“Having more places for people to walk in our communities will help us continue to see increases in walking, the most popular form of physical activity among American adults,” says CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH.

“People need more safe and convenient places to walk,” adds Joan M. Dorn, PhD, branch chief of the Physical Activity and Health Branch in CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. “People walk more where they feel protected from traffic and safe from crime.  Communities can be designed or improved to make it easier for people to walk to the places they need and want to go.”

The Vital Signs report offers suggestions to provide better spaces and more places for walking:

  • State and local governments can consider joint use agreements to let community residents use local school tracks or gyms after classes have finished.
  • Employers can create walking paths around or near the work place and promote them with signs and route maps.
  • Residents can participate in local planning efforts that identify best sites for walking paths and priorities for new sidewalks.

>>Read more on smart growth for more walkable cities.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.