Are You in the Top 25 Percent?

If you walk or bike somewhere at least once a week*, the answer is yes!

According to a study from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, less than a quarter of adults in the U.S. walk or bike for transportation more than 10 minutes per week. Pretty pathetic…

The study credits “active transportation” (mostly biking and walking) regularly with a variety of improved health conditions such as lower BMI and waist circumference, and much lower levels of hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes (up to 30%!).

From the study discussion:

Active transportation is an untapped reservoir of opportunity for physical activity for many U.S. adults. A study using the National Household Transportation Survey found similar low utilization of active transportation, with only 19% of Americans aged ≥5 years reporting walking or bicycling for transportation. In contrast to the U.S., many European countries experience high population levels of active transportation. In Germany, the proportion of individuals reporting any walking or cycling for transportation are two and seven times greater than in the U.S., respectively.These differences are in part due to policies, community planning, and infrastructure design that make active transportation appealing. Implementing similar strategies in the U.S. could have important implications for individuals with time or financial constraints that prohibit leisure-time physical activity or with professions and work environments that are not conducive to occupational physical activity.

The authors finish by noting that their research provides “additional justification for infrastructure and policies that permit and encourage active transportation.”

Is there a little bit of a, “well, duh” factor to this? Yes, probably… but it’s pretty encouraging that instead of just being told “people need to exercise more!” these researchers have come out and identified our infrastructure as a big part of the problem. If we make it easy for people to bike and walk, we’ll have more people biking and walking… and a lot fewer people with health problems.

*And also live in the U.S. of A. Sorry international readers, you’re all wonderful too but these statistics don’t apply to you!



  1. Mir.I.Am December 5, 2012 11:33 pm 

    Hmmm, well statistics don’t apply here in Costa Rica, but I can tell you a little tale. One of our friends takes a taxi EVERYWHERE! I’m talking 7 blocks in the city and she calls and waits for a taxi… By the time the taxi gets there (traffic is backed up forever) we could have walked there and back.
    Flippin’ incredible what a difference it makes using your own two legs to get around!

  2. Ghost Rider December 6, 2012 6:23 am 

    Back in my days with the Florida Dept. of Health, I attended a seminar about urban/suburban sprawl, and how sprawl was one of the greatest public-health threats known to the U.S. — more so than foodborne illness or water contamination!

    It’s pervasive: if you live in an area where there is no bike/ped infrastructure…or even sidewalks (!), there is no incentive/benefit/solution to do anything but get in your car and drive EVERYWHERE. And that sedentary lifestyle is a killer, as you might imagine. There still exist so many subdivisions where actual “living” was not part of the development equation…no nearby commerce, no sidewalks, no outdoor amenities (walking paths, greenspace), few entrances/exits to the ‘hood, etc.

    I am glad to hear and see that a lot of newer developments make that infrastructure part of the design process and part of the marketing strategy — also the resurgence of “urban infill” and smart community planning. But it’s sort of “too little, too late” for too many Americans.

  3. bigbenaugust December 6, 2012 11:07 pm 

    yay, America! :/

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