Get Healthy Utah is working to support increased active transportation in Utah in order to improve health. Active transportation is any self-propelled, human-powered mode of transportation. Activities may include taking the bus to work, biking to school, or walking to a friend’s house.
Physical inactivity is closely linked to a number of chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. A recent study showed that Americans adults are spending over 6 hours a day being sedentary. In Utah, only slightly more than half of adults and only 19% of adolescents are meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines.
Many Utahns believe they do not have the time or energy to by physically active. Improved active transportation in communities makes it easier for people to incorporate physical activity into their daily activities, rather than adding it to their already busy schedules.
There are a number of benefits to active transportation, including:
• Health Benefits: Active transportation can improve physical and mental health, increase energy, reduce traffic-related incidents, and lower stress.
• Mobility Benefits: Active transportation is an inexpensive way to get around for everyone, especially those who cannot drive, children, people with disabilities, and those who cannot afford a car. By having fewer cars on the roads, there is a decrease in congestion and demand for parking, and streets are safer.
• Social Cohesion and Livability Benefits: Living in walkable communities creates and builds trust and relationships between neighbors. Active transportation in communities improves mental and physical health and creates social cohesion.
• Economic Benefits: Active transportation can benefit households, businesses, and cities. It can lower transportation costs, increase property values, and result in less demand for roadway repairs.
• Environmental Benefits: Active transportation reduces air, noise, and water pollution, and results in energy savings.
Our Focus in Schools
In 1969, almost half of children walked or biked to school. By 2009, only 13% did. Walking and biking to school can be an important component of children getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Children who actively get to school show improved academic success and engagement in the classroom. During the 2019 State Legislative Session, Get Healthy Utah was pleased to testify before committee in support of HB208, which ultimately passed. The bill requires the Department of Transportation to establish a program to promote safe routes for walking and biking to school and allows the use of available funds as prioritized by the Transportation Commission. The bill also allows the Department of Transportation to give priority to routes in areas of low-income schools, which helps address health equity. Safe Routes Utah is a statewide program that provides resources to students, parents, and schools to get kids safely walking and biking to school.
Our Focus in Communities
Get Healthy Utah is currently working with multiple agencies, including the Utah Department of Health, Utah Department of Transportation, Wasatch Front Regional Council, and Utah Transit Authority to identify appropriate health data that can be used to optimize transportation and funding choices that influence the health of residents, reduce the burden of health care costs, and create a better quality of life for all Utahns.