US Surgeon General challenge: “Step It UP”

The United States Surgeon General announced a call to action today to promote walking and access to walkable communities. Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities urges community planners and local leaders to highlight the benefits of walking, create more areas for walking and wheelchair rolling and to prioritize the development of safe routes for children to walk to and from schools:

“Everyone deserves to have a safe place to walk or wheelchair roll. But in too many of our communities, that is not the reality,” said Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the 19th U.S. Surgeon General. “We know that an active lifestyle is critical to achieving good overall health. And walking is a simple, effective and affordable way to build physical activity into our lives. That is why we need to step it up as a country ensuring that everyone can choose to walk in their own communities.”

To read the Surgeon General’s Call to Action and learn how to promote walking and walkable communities, please visit www.surgeongeneral.gov.

Recent data show safety and accessibility issues are of major concern in communities that are less walkable. The call to action suggests that plans should include the design of sidewalks, curb cuts, crosswalks, safe crossings for the visually impaired and more green spaces to assuage accessibility concerns. And further calls on city managers, law enforcement and community and public health leaders to address safety issues by better maintaining public spaces, working with residents to promote a shared sense of community ownership, ensuring proper street lighting and fostering neighborhood watch programs.

The Surgeon General’s report discusses the health  and economic benefits of walking and calls on individuals to make walking a priority in their lives. Too many U.S. adults and children do not get enough physical activity to reduce their risk of chronic diseases which account for 86 percent of our nation’s health care costs. Building walking into daily life can reduce disease and save money.

“We know that an average of 22 minutes a day of physical activity – such as brisk walking – can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes,” added Dr. Murthy. “The key is to get started because even a small first effort can make a big difference in improving the personal health of an individual and the public health of the nation.”

To learn more about healthy living including physical activity and healthy eating visit www.surgeongeneral.gov.

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