Note: As of January 1, 2008, the Active Living Network is no longer operational. To stay connected to the active living movement, visit RWJF's related national programs:
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Quick Facts

Health and obesity:

  • Nearly two-thirds of the American population is overweight or obese.
  • Physical inactivity is responsible for an estimated 200,000 deaths each year.
  • Currently, more than a third of children in grades 9-12 fail to exercise at least 20 minutes a day, three times a week.
  • The children of overweight mothers are 15 times more likely to be obese by age six than children of lean mothers.
  • Today there are nearly twice as many overweight children and almost three times as many overweight adolescents as there were in 1980.
  • During roughly the same period, children’s walking trips to school have declined 60%.
  • Kids spend more time watching TV than in school.
  • 29% of American adults are sedentary, and 70% do not achieve the recommended 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity at least five days per week.

Why design for active living?

  • People who live in neighborhoods with a mix of shops and businesses within easy walking distance have 35% lower risk of obesity.
  • 43% of people with safe places to walk within 10 minutes of home meet recommended activity levels, while just 27% of those without safe places to walk are active enough.
  • Creating and improving places to be active can result in a 25% increase in the percentage of people who exercise at least three times a week.
  • Up to 25% of cars on the road during the morning rush hour are providing school transport.
  • More children walk to school when there are sidewalks.