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Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving

Improved pedestrian routes and formation of walking groups pay off, study finds

FRIDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Simple measures such as starting a walking group or creating pedestrian-friendly routes can encourage people to walk more, a new study has found.

At a multicultural housing site in Seattle, researchers implemented and evaluated several interventions meant to increase residents' walking, including sponsoring walking groups, improving walking routes, offering information about walking options and advocating for pedestrian safety.

After the measures were implemented, self-reported walking among walking group members increased from 65 minutes to 108 minutes a day, according to the study published online Nov. 4 in the American Journal of Public Health.

"The built environment influences opportunities for physical activity through access to trails, parks, recreation centers and walkable streets, as does the social environment, such as having opportunities to walk with others," the researchers wrote.

Community design should take into account ways to encourage walking, the study authors noted, and interventions to change people's behavioral habits need to be considered.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about walking.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Public Health Association, news release, Nov. 4, 2009

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