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Combined Built Environment Features Help Communities Get Active

Friday, May 5, 2017  
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The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends combined built environment approaches to increase physical activity. These approaches combine new or enhanced transportation systems (e.g., pedestrian and cycling paths) with new or enhanced land use design (e.g., proximity to a store, access to a public park) to promote physical activity among residents.

The Task Force finding is based on a systematic review of the evidence that showed combinations of activity-friendly built environment characteristics are associated with higher levels of transportation-related physical activity, recreational physical activity, and total walking. The review was conducted on behalf of the Task Force by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice, and policy related to physical activity.

What are Built Environment Intervention Approaches?
Built environment intervention approaches to increase physical activity create or modify environmental characteristics in a community to make physical activity easier or more accessible.

Transportation system interventions include one or more policies or projects designed to increase or improve the following:

  • Street connectivity
  • Sidewalk and trail infrastructure
  • Bicycle infrastructure
  • Public transit infrastructure and access

Land use and environmental design interventions include one or more policies, designs, or projects to create or enhance the following:

  • Mixed land use environments that increase the diversity and proximity of local destinations where people live, work, and spend their recreation and leisure time
  • Access to parks, and other public or private recreational facilities

Why is the Task Force Recommendation Important?
Despite the benefits, less than half of all adults, and 3 in 10 high school students in the United States, get the recommended daily amounts of physical activity (Carlson et al. 2010; CDC 2014 External Web Site Icon).

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things people can do for their health. It can help individuals:

  • Control weight
  • Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduce risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Reduce risk of some cancers
  • Strengthen bones and muscles
  • Improve mental health and mood (CDC 2015 External Web Site Icon)

What are the Task Force and Community Guide?

  • The Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) is an independent, nonfederal, voluntary panel of public health and prevention experts. The Task Force works to improve the health of all Americans by providing evidence-based recommendations about community preventive programs and services to improve health. Its members represent a broad range of research, practice, and policy expertise in community prevention services, public health, health promotion, and disease prevention.
  • The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide) is a collection of all the evidence-based findings and recommendations of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and is available online at www.thecommunityguide.org.

References
Carlson SA, Fulton JE, Schoenborn CA, Loustalot F. Trend and prevalence estimates based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2010;39(4):305–13.


Mission

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning promotes education, research, service and outreach in the United States and throughout the world by seeking to:

  • recognize diverse needs and interests in planning;
  • improve and enhance the accreditation process, and;
  • strengthen the role of planning education in colleges and universities through publications, conferences, and community engagement;
  • extend planning beyond the classroom into the world of practice.

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