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Making it Easy to Stay Active

General information

Walking or bicycling to work, school or the grocery store is the easiest way to increase physical activity and stay healthy. This is called active transportation.

Neighborhoods have been built in such a way that physical activity has been engineered out of our lives. In many places, it is dangerous to walk across the street or for a child to walk or bike to school. 

Before people can choose to use active transportation, our environments must be safer to walk, bike, or use public transit. Public transit is also active transportation because most public transportation trips start or end with a walk or bike ride.

  • People who live near downtowns with shops and restaurants own up to 30% fewer cars than people who live far away from these amenities. 
  • People who live in dense neighborhoods where there are lots of people and lots of shops and restaurants drive less.
  • More – and better – sidewalks are linked with higher rates of walking and a lower likelihood of being overweight.
  • Most studies of children and teens show that walking or biking to school is linked with higher rates of physical activity.
  • People who reported having access to sidewalks were 20% more likely to be physically active than those who said they had no access to sidewalks.
  • The extra walking related to transit is estimated to save $5,500 per person in a lifetime of health-related costs.

Adults need at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, and children need 60 minutes of active play. Any amount of walking and bicycling is good for our health and can prevent many diseases caused by being overweight or obese, such as heart disease and Type II diabetes.

Physical activity you gain by using active transportation helps keep you healthy and can help to:

  • Control your weight
  • Reduce your risk of heart disease
  • Reduce your risk for Type-2 diabetes
  • Reduce your risk of some cancers
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your mental health and mood
  • Improve your ability to do daily activities
  • Prevent falls if you’re an older adult
  • Increase your chances to live a longer life  

Changing the way we get around our communities can seem overwhelming, and changes in transportation happen slowly. But the potential is great. Policies that prioritize health through public transportation today will create long-term changes for generations of San Mateo County children, adults, and seniors.