Step It Up

Step It Up

Want a slimmer, healthier community? Try ­building more sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike paths.

A study co-written by Professor David Bassett Jr. of the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies at UT Knoxville shows that communities with more walkers and cyclists are healthier than those where people must rely on cars to get around.

The researchers analyzed data from the United States and 15 other countries to study the relationship between “active travel”—bicycling or walking rather than driving—and physical activity, obesity, and diabetes.

The results showed that more than half of the difference in obesity rates among countries is linked to walking and cycling rates. In addition, about 30 percent of the difference in obesity rates among states and cities is linked to walking and cycling rates.

People who live in areas where the built environment is conducive to walking and cycling are more likely to engage in those forms of active transport.

Comparing all 50 states and 47 of the 50 largest American cities, the researchers found that states with higher rates of walking and cycling had a higher percentage of adults who achieved recommended levels of physical activity, a lower percentage of obese adults, and a lower percentage of adults with diabetes.