The built environment: Designing communities to promote physical activity in children

Helen J. Binns, Joel A. Forman, Catherine J. Karr, Kevin Osterhoudt, Jerome A. Paulson, James R. Roberts, Megan T. Sandel, James M. Seltzer, Robert O. Wright, Janice J. Kim, Elizabeth Blackburn, Mark Anderson, Sharon Savage, Walter J. Rogan, Richard J. Jackson, June M. Tester, Paul Spire

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


An estimated 32% of American children are overweight, and physical inactivity contributes to this high prevalence of overweight. This policy statement highlights how the built environment of a community affects children's opportunities for physical activity. Neighborhoods and communities can provide opportunities for recreational physical activity with parks and open spaces, and policies must support this capacity. Children can engage in physical activity as a part of their daily lives, such as on their travel to school. Factors such as school location have played a significant role in the decreased rates of walking to school, and changes in policy may help to increase the number of children who are able to walk to school. Environment modification that addresses risks associated with automobile traffic is likely to be conducive to more walking and biking among children. Actions that reduce parental perception and fear of crime may promote outdoor physical activity. Policies that promote more active lifestyles among children and adolescents will enable them to achieve the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. By working with community partners, pediatricians can participate in establishing communities designed for activity and health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1591-1598
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Active living
  • Active transport
  • Built environment
  • Neighborhood
  • Parks
  • Pedestrian safety
  • Physical activity
  • Urban design
  • Walk to school
  • Youth


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