MCHbest. NPM 8: Physical Activity
Strategy. Activity-Friendly Routes to Everyday Destinations
Approach. Use built environment approaches to create or enhance community characteristics to make physical activity easier, more appealing, and more accessible.
Overview. Research indicates that communities with activity-friendly features, such as Complete Streets policies and streetscape design initiatives, zoning policies, comprehensive or master plans, and Safe Routes to Schools and Safe Routes to Parks, report higher physical activity among residents, including children, than those without these features.1, 2 Examples of studies with positive outcomes were those where routes such as sidewalks, walking and hiking trails, bicycle lanes, and public transit connected to destinations such as parks, green spaces, stores, homes, schools, worksites, and libraries.3
Evidence. Scientifically Rigorous. There is strong evidence that streetscape design improvements and improvements to pedestrian or bicycle transportation systems and environmental design interventions increase physical activity. These strategies have been tested more than once and results trend positive overall. Access the peer-reviewed evidence through the MCH Digital Library. (Read more about understanding evidence ratings).
Target Audience. Community.
Outcome. Increase in overall physical activity in children. For detailed outcomes related to each study supporting this strategy, click on the peer-reviewed evidence link above and read the “Intervention Results” for each study.
Examples from the Field. Access descriptions of current ESMs that use this strategy directly or intervention components that aligns with this strategy. You can use these ESMs to see how other Title V agencies are addressing the NPM.
Sample ESMs. Using the approach “Use built environment approaches to create or enhance community characteristics to make physical activity easier, more appealing, and more accessible,” here are sample ESMs you can use as a model for your own measures using the Results-Based Accountability framework (for suggestions on how to develop programs to support this strategy, see The Role of Title V in Adapting Strategies):
Note. ESMs become stronger as they move from measuring quantity to measuring quality (moving from Quadrants 1 and 3, respectively, to Quadrants 2 and 4) and from measuring effort to measuring effect (moving from Quadrants 1 and 2, respectively, to Quadrants 3 and 4).
1 Calise TV, Heeren T, DeJong W, Dumith SC, Kohl HW 3rd. Do neighborhoods make people active, or do people make active neighborhoods? Evidence from a planned community in Austin, Texas. Prev Chronic Dis. 2013;10:E102.
2 Lee C, Zhu X, Xu M, Lee H, Ory M. Moving to an activity-friendly community can increase physical activity. Paper presented at: Active Living Conference; February 5, 2020; Orlando, FL.
3 Guide to Community Preventive Services. Physical activity: built environment approaches combining transportation system interventions with land use and environmental design. Systematic Review. 2016.