Access to Physical-Activity Facilities
Both physical activity and dietary intake are important components in weight loss and control. Regular physical activity substantially reduces the risk of dying of coronary heart disease, decreases the risk of colon cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Environmental issues such as proximity of athletic facilities, street design, density of housing, availability of public transit, access to pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly transportation routes, and the availability of safe outdoor spaces play significant roles in promoting or discouraging physical activity. The Task Force on Community Preventive Services strongly recommends the creation of, or improvement of access to, places for physical activity, combined with informational outreach activities. Despite the proven benefits of physical activity, more than 60 percent of American adults do not get enough physical activity and more than a third of young people in grades 9 through 12 do not regularly engage in physical activity vigorous enough to provide health benefits. In 2001, only half of high school students participated in any physical-education classes and less than one-third participated in physical education on a daily basis. A number of initiatives have begun through federal, state, and local governments to reverse this trend. While many of these programs involve educating consumers about the importance of physical activities, some are focused more directly on providing means for people to become more active in their daily lives.
For more information visit http://www.nhpf.org/pdfs_bp/BP_Obesity_7-03.pdf