By Brad Broberg
One out of every two adults in the United States lives with a chronic disease. Physical activity can help prevent chronic disease, but half of all adults get too little of it.
Treating chronic disease accounts for 75 percent of
all health care spending, which is projected to reach
$5.4 trillion a year by 2024.
Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
Too bad there isn’t a simple way to increase physical
activity, improve public health and help reduce rising
Ahhh, but there is.
Hippocrates connected the dots more than 2,400 years
ago. “Walking,” said the creator of the Hippocratic oath,
“is man’s best medicine.”
Millenniums later, that prescription is more valid than
ever. With obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases
taking a heavy toll in lives and dollars, the link between
walking and health raises the stakes for creating safe and
convenient places to walk.
Earlier this year U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy
sounded a call to action challenging all Americans to
increase their physical activity through walking and challenging all communities to become more walkable.
It’s a worthy goal, but a heavy lift.
Much of the built environment in America is designed
with driving, not walking, in mind. While walking
remains a popular form of recreation, it stopped being
a routine part of everyday living decades ago, erasing
an inherent source of physical activity that contributed
greatly to public health.
“One of the biggest challenges is 50 years of automobile-dominated development,” says Scott Bricker, executive
director of America Walks, a nonprofit organization based
in Portland, Ore. “A lot of development has basically engineered walkability out of the daily lifestyle of people.”
Photo courtesy of Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Photo courtesy of NY DOT
The prescription for better health