Combined Built Environment Features Help Communities Get Active | The Guide to Community Preventive Services

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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.