Take Steps to Battle the Bulge
A short walk every day can improve your life and your community.

Press Release - For immediate use

December 13, 2001

CHAPEL HILL — Fighting obesity is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, according to experts at the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, part of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center.

In response to today's (Dec. 13) "Surgeon General's Call to Action" released by U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson against the obesity epidemic, the center has published several online resources to encourage people to start walking and incorporate physical activity into their everyday routines.

The tools and information available at www.walkinginfo.org include walking tips, a checklist to help people determine how walker-friendly their neighborhoods are and more. The site also includes articles about the benefits of walking and stories from communities around the country that are making great strides toward creating more walkable and healthier communities.

"For most people, walking is an easy way to add activity into their daily lives without having to undertake intense exercise," said Mark Fenton of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center and author of "The Complete Guide to Walking." "Unfortunately, not everyone lives in a neighborhood that is designed to make walking safe and easy."

Among the tips Fenton offers those seeking to increase their physical activity are:

  • Add more steps into your day by taking the stairs or parking further away.
  • Walk or bike one daily trip for which you'd normally drive the car.
  • Get a walking buddy or take a family walk after dinner.
  • Walk a child to school or participate in a Walk to School Day event (www.walktoschool-usa.org).
  • Walk through your neighborhood and rate its "walkability" (www.walkinginfo.org/walkingchecklist.htm).

"Good walkability in a community requires excellent design and engineering, safe behavior by pedestrians and cyclists as well as motorists, and recognition that walking is an important transportation option with tremendous health benefits," said Charles Zegeer, director of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. "Using the walkability checklist, citizens can identify barriers to walking within their community and find immediate and long-term solutions."

The checklist asks people to answer five basic questions as they walk through their neighborhood:

  • Did you have room to walk?
  • Was it easy to cross the streets?
  • Did drivers behave well?
  • Was it easy to follow safety rules?
  • Was your walk pleasant and safe?

"Given all we know about the health benefits of walking, everyone, young and old, should be out walking," said Fenton. "If people in your community aren't out walking, find out why and organize an event such as Walk to School Day to get people moving. Walking can improve people's lives and their communities. It may be the simplest and most powerful weapon we have in the battle against obesity."

To view the "Surgeon General's Call to Action," click on www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/obesity/.

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Written by Shannon Walters
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
Phone: (919) 962-7803

Additional Resources
For more information on pedestrian and bicycle safety, visit the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center.

walking tips:
Looking for some easy ways you can incorporate physical activity into your daily routine? GO >>

walkability checklist
How walkable is your community? Take a walk and use this checklist to decide if your neighborhood is a friendly place to walk. GO >>

walk to school day
Walk to School Day is about children, adults and community leaders walking to school together to recognize the benefits of walking and the need to create communities that are safe places to walk. GO >>

international walk to school day
Last year nearly 3 million walkers from 21 countries walked to school together for various reasons - all hoping to create communities that are safe places to walk. GO >>

The Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity
Health problems resulting from overweight and obesity could reverse many of the health gains achieved in the U.S. in recent decades, according to a Surgeon General's "call to action". GO >>

Media Contacts

Caroline Dickson
919.962.5835
dickson@hsrc.unc.edu

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