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Feature Story

June 2017


Building Communities to Encourage Physical Activity

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

California Campus Converts Courts to Golf Practice Space - June 2017

Where Are the Nation's Top City Park Systems? - June 2017

KaBOOM! Brings Play to Military Kids - May 2017

USA Basketball Open Court Sessions Get Youths Into the Game - May 2017

Educators Push Legislators to Support Health & Physical Education Programs - May 2017

NFHS Revises Rules for Competitive Spirit Squads - May 2017

Pool & Spa Professionals Fight Immigration Restrictions - April 2017

Grants Available to Boost Dog Parks - April 2017

New Aquatic Management Program Aims to Improve Safety, Efficiency - April 2017

16 Cities Nationwide to Receive Park Improvement Funding - April 2017

Study Confirms: People Pee in Pools - March 2017

Volunteers Get Hands-On History Experience in Virginia - March 2017

Park Hop Inspires Park Usage - March 2017

National Health Campaign Reaches 228,000 Youth in Three Years - March 2017

Outdoor REC Act Signed Into Law - February 2017

Happy 125th B-Day B-Ball! - February 2017

Study Shows Majority—Even Athletes—Are 'Overfat' - February 2017

Gym-Goers Like YMCA Best; Planet Fitness Winning Market Share - February 2017

Georgia State Park Celebrates Its Dark Sky Status - January 2017

Texas Tech Focuses on Functional Fitness - January 2017

Preventing Pool Closings - January 2017

Majority of U.S. Households Visit Attractions - January 2017

City of Henderson Awarded for Water Safety Programs - December 2016

Grant Brings Outdoor Fitness Area to Park - December 2016

Alliance Recommends Actions to Improve Kids' Activity Stats - December 2016

Retractable Enclosures Help YMCAs Cut Costs, Boost Membership - November 2016

Huge Project Seeks to Rebuild Monarch Habitats - November 2016

Report: Camping More Popular Than Ever - November 2016

ACSM Predicts 2017 Fitness Trends - November 2016

CDC: More Than One-Quarter of 50-Plus U.S. Adults Don't Exercise - October 2016

Park District Recognized for Collaboration Efforts - October 2016

Americans Support Increased Local Funding for Parks & Rec - October 2016

High School Sports Participation Up for 27th Consecutive Year - October 2016

National Park Service Celebrates 100 Years of Successful Partnerships - October 2016

Study Shows High Obesity Rates Among Student Athletes - September 2016

Forest Service Celebrates 100-Year-Old Campground - September 2016

Study Shows Artificial Turf Composition Influences Injury Prevention - September 2016

Study Shows Artificial Turf Composition Influences Injury Prevention - August 2016

Council Announces Release of Second Edition of Model Aquatic Health Code - August 2016

Study Finds Seniors, Women Less Likely to Use Parks - August 2016

Level Up Your Park With Pokémon Go - August 2016

Research Shows Light Pollution's Impact on Night Sky - July 2016

Trail-Oriented Development Eases Congestion, Encourages Activity - July 2016

Nonprofits Aim to Boost Inclusive Fitness Opportunities - July 2016

Research Shows Benefits of Nature for Older Adults - June 2016

Destination Play Comes to Draper, Utah - June 2016

New Report Breaks Down the Data on City Parks - June 2016

Virtual Reality, Immersion & Interaction Lead Amusement Park Trends in 2016 - June 2016

By Dave Ramont

The Community Preventive Services Task Force is an independent, nonfederal, unpaid panel of public health and prevention experts that provides evidence-based findings and recommendations about community preventive services, programs and policies that aim to improve health. Task Force members are appointed by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And now, in an effort to promote and increase physical activity among residents, the Task Force recommends combined built environment intervention approaches. These approaches make physical activity simpler or more accessible by creating or updating various environmental characteristics in a community. The approaches combine new or enhanced transportation systems, such as bike trails or pedestrian paths, with new or enhanced land use design. This could include proximity to stores or coffee shops, or access to public parks or ballfields.

The Task Force came to this conclusion after reviewing evidence showing that combinations of activity-friendly built environment characteristics are associated with higher levels of transportation-related physical activity, recreational physical activity and overall total walking.

Transportation system interventions include certain projects or policies designed to increase or improve sidewalk and trail infrastructure, bicycle infrastructure, street connectivity, and public transit infrastructure and access.

Environmental design and land use interventions include various designs, projects or policies to create or enhance mixed land use environments that increase the diversity and proximity of local destinations. These destinations include not only where people live and work, but also where they spend their leisure time, such as parks and other public or private recreational facilities.

Many communities are looking for ways to help inspire their residents to exercise, knowing that regular physical activity is crucial when it comes to overall health. It strengthens bones and muscles and can help control weight. It helps reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and some cancers. And regular exercise can improve mental health and mood. Yet despite these known benefits, less than half of all adults in the United States—and only three in 10 high school students—get the recommended daily amounts of physical activity.

The Task Force based their recommendations on evidence from a systematic review of 90 studies. These studies looked at diverse designs, and compared and assessed different combinations of interventions or existing built environment characteristics. They then evaluated longitudinal changes or cross-sectional differences for a broad range of physical activity outcomes. And they found that physical activity increased among those in communities with new or improved projects or policies combining transportation with land use and design components.

The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide) contains all of the findings and recommendations of the Task Force and is available at thecommunityguide.org.


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