Community Commons recently attended the 2013 Walking Summit in Washington D.C. and if there was one big take-away, it’s that we all need to up our game.
According to a recent walking survey conducted by Kaiser Permanente, 94 percent of Americans know that walking 30 minutes per day, five days a week is healthy for them, but the majority are still not doing it.
What Can We Do?
Reasons for not walking cited in the survey included poor walking infrastructure and lack of time. So let’s up the game in these areas to remove the barriers.
The Built Environment
Spend some time thinking about your areas walking environment. Studies have show that improving walking infrastructure is a powerful method to change habits. Make the case for a more walkable community and share that information with your city leaders. Pick a location that will have a huge impact…a sidewalk here or a crosswalk there…and watch support for the next project grow after people experience the benefits. There are some great resources already out there to get you started.
- Smart Growth America has compiled a great list of presentations and resources from the Walking Summit into one place for easy access.
- Rails to Trails put out a guide to Active Transportation Beyond Urban Centers.
- Map your city’s Walk Score, then save and share it to show where the greatest need is in your community.
Yes, those types of projects can take years to plan, fund, and develop. So while working through the channels, focus on motiving and inspiring people to make walking a regular part of their day. Like the survey said, Americans know the benefits, they just need ways to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
Motivate and Inspire
Get the word out on walking! Helping people incorporate walking into their daily lives, instead of as an extra task, can go a long way toward increasing walking rates. Encourage businesses to give time for a walk break or conduct meetings while walking around the block.
Many civic, social and faith-based organizations are looking for people to make presentations at group meetings. Show groups how they can improve the health of their members by starting walking programs or creating a Walking Buddy program with these resources.
How Are You Going to Up Your Game?
They get the message, now it’s time for action. How are you going to up your game for walking so that we make a real impact and create communities where everyone can thrive? Share your stories and strategies on the Commons so that we can collaborate, learn, and make change together.