Lec4_Franketal_HealthCommDesign_ch4_5 - Health Community...

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Health AND Community Design THE IMPACT OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT ON PHYSICAL ACTIVITY Lawrence D. Frank Peter o. Engelke Thomas L. Schmid Island Press WASHINGTON I COVELO I LONDON
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PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND PUBLIC HEALTH many in the public health community toward understanding how poor dietary and physical activity patterns contribute to these problems. As this chapter has shown, there is increasing evidence suggesting that nonstruc- tured forms of exercise can be a critical component in improving Americans' overall health. This perspective derives additional force from the fact that so many people get very little exercise, and even though most say they would like to be more active, they seem to have a hard time increasing the amount of activity they get. Because such a large percentage of the population is seden- tary or only active occasionally, and because more health risks accrue to peo- ple within this category than for those who are more frequent exercisers, public health researchers repeatedly stress the need to activate sedentary individuals. The rationale is threefold: moderate forms of exercise such as walking can actually be performed by beginning exercisers, whereas more strenuous forms of exercise such as aerobic dance may be too difficult; mod- erate exercise can be more easily worked into a person's daily routines, becoming a part of one's lifestyle and thus requiring no long-term commit- ment to a structured exercise program at a facility; and adherence rates to exercise programs consisting of moderate and purposeful exercise may be higher than those involving more strenuous forms. CHAPTER FOUR Physical Activity TYPES AND PATTERNS Given the health benefits of regular physical activity, we have to wonder why two out of three Americans are continuing to risk their health and the quality of their lives by remaining sedentary. u.s. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Promoting Physical Activity: A Guide for Community Action (1999) T here are many different types of physical activity, and each has different attributes, qualities, and purposes, which collectively determine how easy or difficult it is to adopt and adhere to each type. Physical activity can be either recreational or utilitarian in nature, demand either a moderate or a vigorous amount of exertion from the participant, and require varying amounts of leisure time, financial resources, and equipment. This chapter makes the case that, all other things being equal, activities that have a lower exertion threshold, require little equipment or financial resources, do not take much time from other activities, and have some practical purpose have distinct advantages over other types. We argue that walking and bicycling are advantaged in this respect, in particular the fact that they are moderately intense, impose relatively few barriers on those wishing to begin participa- tion in them, and, perhaps most importantly, can be done by a person while he or she is performing some other useful task. Unfortunately, the levels of
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Lec4_Franketal_HealthCommDesign_ch4_5 - Health Community...

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