Step It Up!
The US Surgeon General issued a call to action to address major public health challenges such as heart disease and diabetes through walking, an easy and inexpensive way to increase physical activity.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2015). Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General. 60 pp.
Promoting walking offers a powerful public health strategy to increase physical activity. With this report, the U.S. Surgeon General calls on Americans to be physically active and for the nation to better support walking and walkability for people of all ages and abilities. To improve walking and walkability, communities need to be designed to make walking safer and easier; programs and policies need to be available to support and encourage walking; and individuals and families need to support each other to become and stay active.
This Call to Action presents five goals and supporting implementation strategies that are grounded in scientific and practice-based evidence. These goals call for action by multiple sectors of society, including transportation, land use, and community design; parks, recreation, and fitness; education (schools, colleges, and universities); business and industry; volunteer and nonprofit; health care; media; and public health. Families and individuals will also need to be involved to achieve these goals.
Walking Is an easy way to start and maintain a physically active lifestyle. Walking does not require special skills, facilities, or expensive equipment and is an easy physical activity to begin and maintain as part of a physically active lifestyle. Walking begins early in life and, for the most part, continues throughout the lifespan. Most people are able to walk, and many people with disabilities are able to walk or move with assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or walkers. In addition, walking is a year-round activity that can be done indoors or outdoors. Walking may be a good way to help people who are inactive become physically active. Walking intensity, duration, and frequency are self-determined, and people can tailor their walking patterns to fit their time, needs, and abilities. Walking also has a lower risk of injury than vigorous-intensity activities, such as running. The amount and intensity of walking can be gradually increased over time to minimize the risk of injury, and walking promotion programs can include injury prevention efforts.
People walk for many purposes, such as for transportation to get to school, work, a store, or the library or for leisure to have fun, socialize with friends or family, walk their dog, or improve their health. Because walking is multipurpose, it provides many opportunities for people to incorporate physical activity into their busy lives.