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Commemorating the Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities

By Kate Kraft on September 29th, 2016

In September 2015, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy launched Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities. The Call to Action urges Americans to be more physically active through walking or rolling to the best of their abilities and for communities from across the US to create environments that support walking and walkability.

As we know, being physically active is one of the most important steps that people of all ages can take to improve their physical, mental, and cognitive health. However, only half of adults and even fewer adolescents get the recommended amount of daily physical activity. The walking movement, including Active Living By Design and America Walks, continues to encourage community design that supports walking in order to help improve these numbers.

Advocates can use the Call to Action on Walking and Walkable Communities to help demonstrate the power of walking—it is the most common form of physical activity reported, can serve both utilitarian and leisure purposes, and is available to almost everyone. As outlined in the Call to Action’s five goals and multiple strategies, promoting walking and creating more safe and accessible walkable places could reasonably address the challenges of inactivity and sedentary living. The Call to Action also provides research, resources, and ideas for how to engage new partners, communities, and the government in the important work to make sure every community member has the space to be as physically active as they are able.

Since the September 2015 release, we have seen a significant increase in the interest, involvement, and promotion of walking and the development of safe, walkable places for everyone. Walking organizations like Walk with a Doc, GirlTrek, and Walk2Connect are reporting significant increases in participation. Environmental organizations, land use advocates, and affordable housing developers are also partnering to create walkable communities that can be enjoyed by all. At America Walks, we are seeing record numbers participating in our webinars, downloading our resources, and asking about our work. We have also seen an increase in the efforts and interests of the local advocates we work with.

America Walks is also organizing the 2017 National Walking Summit focused on Vital and Vibrant Communities: The Power of Walkability. The 2017 Call for Proposals was released earlier this month. Tell us how walking and walkability has helped you create more engaged, thriving, productive communities and then join us in St. Paul, MN, September 13-15, 2017, to share and hear from others.

Seems like September has become an important month for all things walking. Now I think I will go take a walk.

Kate Kraft

Executive Director, America Walks

Kate Kraft is a recognized expert in how structural environments impact health and is a member of Active Living By Design's advisory board.