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Non-Profit Spotlight: Every Body Walk

At this point, most Americans have heard of the country’s struggle with obesity and unhealthy lifestyles.  No statistic highlights this problem better than America’s increasing obesity rates: in the 1980’s only one state had obesity rates above 20%; today 49 states do.  Time and time again, the blame for this goes to fast food and dietary control matters, with little mention of urban planning policy and how that plays into the issue.  Many urbanists believe there is in fact a direct correlation between this public health crisis and urban planning, citing the decrease in walkable community development and increased reliance on the automobile as reasons people lead increased sedentary lifestyles and are becoming more obese.

Fortunately, this connection has really began to catch on in planning circles as seen in new urbanism developments across the country and the residential growth of central cities across America.  And now, national non-profits are starting to push for more responsible urban development, promoting that angle a way towards decreasing the nation’s soaring obesity rates by allowing people to walk not just for pleasure, but as a means of transportation and for running daily errands.  One group that is starting to let its voice be heard in this national conversation is Every Body Walk, a non-profit dedicated to getting America up and moving, one way or another.

Every Body Walk’s main mission is to encourage every American to walk at least 30 minutes a day.  Their campaign arose because more than 70% of adult Americans currently lead sedentary lifestyles. This is having a direct impact on the overall health of our country, which spends $2.5 trillion annually on medical care.  An estimated 80% of that figure is spend on treating chronic conditions that can be prevented or treated by regular walking habits.

Thus Every Body Walk was born, an online educational campaign aimed at getting Americans up and walking.  A walking hub, www.everybodywalk.org, features news and resource on walking, health information, walking maps, how to find walking groups, a personal pledge form to start walking as well as a place to share stories about individual experiences with walking.  Plus, they are currently developing a mobile app for keeping people on track to walk more in their daily lives.  For urbanists out there, the site is a great one-stop shop for learning about America’s most walkable cities, neighborhood walk scores, and organizations and blogs who promote walkable communities and urban development.

To stay up-to-date on everything Every Body Walk, follow them on Twitter (@everybodywalk) or visit their Facebook page.  They are spearheading a truly ambitious campaign and one of particular importance, not just for the physical health and well-being of our populace, but also the well-being of walkable communities in America.  So please get the word out on Every Body Walk, a great cause worth supporting.

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