For health

For Health

Regular activity, like walking, is “the closest thing to a magic bullet for your health” [Graham Colditz, MD, Washington University, School of Medicine] and is hard to beat when it comes to keeping yourself healthy.  As the first and most fundamental form of transportation and physical activity, walking is fun and easy for people of every age, income, or ability.  At WalkBoston, we’re dedicated to promoting walking for health, transportation, and recreation in all cities across Massachusetts. Our Walk Your Way to Health brochure provides data and statistics on the benefits of walking for your health.

It’s easy to engage in walking on a daily basis. Walking is a safe low-impact exercise for all ages, and it’s fun and gets you where you need to go.  Walking has numerous health benefits, including:
• Controls and prevent hypertension
• Increases HDL-cholesterol levels (good cholesterol)
• Controls weight
• Increases bone density
• Decreases mental stress
• Improves circulation and posture

For Your Heart
Heart-related diseases are closely related to the capacity of the heart to pump blood to meet your body’s needs.  You can strengthen your heart’s capacity by walking.  Brisk walking should make your heart beat faster. Walking equals other exercises in heart benefits, even jogging or running.  Walking at 75% - 85% of a maximum heart rate offers the same health benefits as aerobic exercise while resulting in fewer injuries because of the lower force hitting the ground.  Walking 3 miles an hour, or around 20 minutes per mile, should get your heart beating faster, improving blood flow and increasing health benefits.

For Diabetes
The World Diabetes Foundation recommends that people diagnosed with diabetes should avoid stress, exercise regularly, and reduce weight if overweight, which can all be helped by walking regularly.  Changing diet and increasing physical activity like walking can prevent 80% of type 2 diabetes diagnoses. In fact, a study of over 3,200 overweight adults found that a good diet and 2.5 hours of walking per week reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 58%.  Diabetes can lead to increased risk of kidney failure, lower-extremity amputations, and blindness.

For Your Life
Walking is especially important in the prevention of chronic disease, which effects nearly 1 out of every 2 American adults.  Nearly all chronic diseases are related to obesity, which puts stress on muscles, heart, and bones.  The United Nations World Health Organization and the US Center for Disease Control agree that chronic diseases can be prevented or delayed by being active and walking.  Walking also helps alleviate the symptoms of chronic disease.  Combining just 20 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 days a week with a weekly walking routine can reduce the changes of mortality by 50%.

Articles and Studies

Chronic Disease and Survey Data

Wellness and Chronic Disease Department of Public Health, 2014

Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and Low Back Pain Canadian Family Physician, 2012

Actively Moving America to Better Health ACSM American Fitness Index, 2011

Addressing the Public Health Crisis of Overweight and Obsesity in Massachusetts, 2011

American Ostepathic Association Exercise Survey, 2011

Health, United States, 2011 US Department of Health and Human Services

Study on the Effects of Exercise and Nutrition on Bones of Older Women Agricultural Research, 1991

Health Status Pie Chart & Socio-ecological Model 

Climate Change

Health Cobenefits and Transportation-Related Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions American Journal of Public Health, 2013

Six Cliimate Change-Related Events in the U.S. and Health Costs Health Affairs, 2011

Diabetes Data and Prevention

Comparison of Measures of Walkability In Relation to Transportation Behaviors, Obesity, and Diabetes Plos One, 2014

Global Diabetes Plan 2011-2021 International Diabetes Federation

Diet, Lifestyle, and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes New England Journal of Medicine study

More Exercize may Prevent Diabetes in Black Women Rueters, 2008

Going the Extra Mile for Action Against Diabetes and Overweight, 2008

Diabetes Hospitalization Rates, 2003-2008 Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Diabetes in Toronto Institute for Clinical Evaluative Studies (ICES), 2007

Neighbourhood Environments and Resources for Healthy Living - A Focus on Diabetes in Toronto ICES, 2007

Fight Against Cancer

Coping with Cancer: Can Exercize Help? Physician & Sportsmedicine, 2012

Ring in a New Healthier You in 2012 Newswise, 2011

Study Says Women Can Fight Breast Cancer One Step at a Time Boston Herald, 2005

The Effects of Walking on Mortality among Nonsmoking Retired Men New England Journal of Medicine, 1998

Physical Activity and Cancer National Cancer Institute

Food and Nutrition

Employing Dietitians Pays Off for Supermarkets New York Times, 2012

"Prescription Produce" Seeks to Address Childhood Obesity New York Times, 2010

Massachusetts Pilot Program Helps Boost Students' Nutrition, Fitness Habits Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2008

General Wellness

U.S. Centers for Disease Control Report2011

Harvard Alumni Study, 2000

Arthritis, Osteoporosis and Low Back Pain Canadian Family Physician, 2012

Health Policies

Healthy Planning Guide

Health Impact Assessment Executive Summary Boston Public Health Commission, 2012

A Long View on Health Care: Think Like an Investor New York Times, 2012

Redesigning Employee Health Incentives - Lessons from Behavioral Economics New England Journal of Medicine, 2011

Getting Involved in Transportation Planning Public Health Law & Policy, 2011

Return on Investments in Public Health: Summary of Groundbreaking Research Studies Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2011

Healthier Communities Through Redevelopment Public Health Law & Policy, 2011

An Opportunity Map for Societal Investment in Health American Medical Association, 2011

Comparative Effectiveness of Healthcare between the U.S. and Other Nations American Medical Association, 2011

Buoying Health by Building Communities Health Affairs, 2011

Community Development Efforts Offer a Major Opportunity to Advance Americans' Health Health Affairs, 2011

Evidence Links Increases in Public Health Spending to Declines in Preventable Deaths Health Affairs, 2011

Health Impact Assessments are Needed in Decision Making About Environmental and Land-Use Policy Health Affairs, 2011

Despite Obstacles, Considerable Potential Exists for More Robust Federal Policy on Community Development and Health Health Affairs, 2011

Why Behavioral and Environmental Interventionals are Needed to Improve Health at Lower Costs Health Affairs, 2011

Improving Health in the US: The Role of Health Impact Assessment National Research Council, 2011

Transport and Health Resource: Delivering Healthy Local Transport Plans Department of Health, 2011

Incorporating Health into the City of Boston: Planning Processes Through Health Impact Assessment 2011

Introduction to Health Impact Assessment (HIA)

Improving Urban Health Equity Through Action on the Social and Environmental Determinants of Health 2010

Forging New Connections Between Health and Community Development Community Investments 2010

A Framework for Public Health Action: The Health Impact Pyramid American Journal of Public Health, 2010

A Profile of Health Among Massachusetts Adults, 2009 Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 2010

The Hidden Health Costs of Transportation Urban Design 4 Health, 2010

New York City's War on Fat New England Journal of Medicine 2009

Healthy, Equitable Transportation Policy Prevention Institute, 2009

The Transportation Prescription Prevention Institute, 2009

Healthy Corner Stores Strategic Plan, 2009

Cost Savings and Cost-Effectiveness of Clinical Preventive Care Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2009

Health Impact Assessment: A Step Toward Health in All Policies American Medical Association, 2009

Structural Interventions for Addressing Chronic Health Problems American Medical Association, 2009

Strategies for Enhancing the Built Environment to Support Healthy Eating and Active Living Prevention Institute, 2008

Relation Between Neighborhood Environments and Obesity in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis American Journal of Epidemiology, 2008

Active Living Resarch in Diverse and Disadvantaged Communities American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2008

Air Quality and Accident Health Impacts, 2008

Overcoming Obstacles to Health Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2008

Unintentional Fall-Related Injuries Among Massachusetts Older Adults Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 2008

Responding to Threats to Child Health 2007

Policy and Environmental Change: New Directions for Public Health Society for Public Health Education, 2004

Understanding Environmental Influences on Walking American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2004

Promoting Safe Walking and Cycling to Improve Public Health American Journal of Public Health, 2003

Heart Health

Active Transportion and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in U.S. Adults American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2012

Crimes of the Heart Newsweek 2010

Active Commuting and Cardiovascular Disease Risk CARDIA Study 2009

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines, 2008

Availability of Recreational Resources and Physical Activities in Adults American Journal of Public Health, 2007

Physical Activity Reverses Arterial Damage from High Fat Meal Courrior Press, 2006

Injury Prevention

Cost-Driven Injury Prevention The Journal of Tauma, 2011

Boston Medical Center Injury Prevention Center Annual Report, 2010-2011

Identifying Risk Factors for Indoor and Outdoor Falls for Older Adults Blackwell Publishing, 2010

Effectve Fall Interventions: What Works for Community-Dwelling Older Adults National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2010

Self-Reported Falls and Fall-Related Injuries Among Persons Aged >65 Years Center for Diseases Control and Prevention, 2008

Outdoor Falls Among Older Citizens: A Neglected Public Health Problem American Journal of Public Health, 2006

Fractures and Other Injuries from Falls After an Ice Storm American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 1998

Falls Among the Elderly: Distinguishing Indoor and Outdoor Risk Factors in Canada Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 1994

Mental and Cognitive Health Improvement

How Exercise Could Lead to a Better Brain New York Times, 2012

Walking Prescribed for Patients with Depression HealthPartners, 2011

Outwalking Depression Psychology Today, 2011

The Effects of Physical Activity on Achievement and Cognitvie Outcomes Research Quarterly for Exercize & Sport, 2011

Moderate Exercise Improves Depression Parameters in Treatment-Resistant Patients with Major Depressive Disorder Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2011

Brisk Walking Linked to Better Memory for Seniors Associated Press, 2011

Anxious Kids? Let Them Walk to School Time, 2010

Studying the Link Between Exercise and Learning CNN, 2010

Study: Walking is a Brain Exercize Too Time, 2010

Sparking the Brain Commonwealth Education, 2008

The Mental Health Benefits of Walking and Bicycling Portland State University, 2008

Brisk Walking Seen Aiding Aging Brain Associated Press, 2008

Brisk Walking Regime Can Alleviate Stress in Menopausal Women Associated Press, 2008

Physical Activity May Help Maintain Cognitive Function in Older Adults Journal of the American Medical Association 2004

Walking and Cognitive Function in Women Nurses' Health Study, JAMA, 2004

Does Physical Activity Influence Academic Performance? University of Central Florida - Orlano, 2004

Walking and Dementia in Physically Capable Elderly Men American Medical Association, 2004

Physical Activity as a Nonpharmacological Treatment for Depression: A Review Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine 2003


Comparison of Measures of Walkability In Relation to Transportation Behaviors, Obesity, and Diabetes Plos One, 2014

Keeping Obesity-related Health Care Costs Under Control Health Policy Connection, 2012

Walking May Lessen the Influence of Genes on Obesity by Half Science Daily, 2012

Combating Obesity with Street Design Atlantic Cities, 2011

Assessment of Urban Form and Weight Gain in American-American Women American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2011

Maintaining a High Physical Activity Level Over 20 Years and Weight Gain American Medical Association, 2010

Draft Stategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research 2010

Exercise for Aging Women Reuters, 2010

Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation White House Task Force Report, 2010

Summary of Recommendations White House Task Force Report, 2010

Study on Relationship Between Reasons for Choosing a Neighbourhood, Physical Activity and BMI International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2010

The Status of Childhood Weight in Massachusetts, 2009

Making the Link from Transportation to Physical Activity and Obesity Active Living Research, 2009

Impact of Overweight and Obesity Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 2009

Small-Area Estimationand Prioritizing Communities for Obesity Control in Massachusetts American Journal of Public Health, 2009

CDC's Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009

Changes in the Regional Prevalence of Child Obesity Nature Obesity, 2009

Childhood Obesity is a Serious Concern in NYC NYC Health Department, 2009

Childhood Obesity in Massachusetts Brief 2008

Financial Incentive-Based Approaches for Weight Loss American Medical Association, 2008

Body Mass Index in Urban Canada American Journal of Public Health, 2007

Association of the Built Environment with Physical Activity and Obesity in Older Persons American Journal of Public Health, 2007

Issue Brief: Overweight and Obesity in Massachusetts: Epidemic, Hype or Policy Opportunity? Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, 2007

Policy Brief: Overweight and Obesity in Massachusetts: Epidemic, Hype or Policy Opportunity? Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, 2007

Middle-Aged People Can Walk Off Extra Weight USA Today, 2006

Obesity in Massachusetts Has Increased Dramatically Boston Globe, 2006

Enhancing State and Local Capacity to Promot Healthy Weight in Children National Academy for State Health Policy, 2005

How Obesity Policies are Failing in America Trust for America's Health, 2005

Health Services Use and Health Care Costs of Obese and Nonobese Individuals American Medical Association, 2004

Schools Can Play a Role in Preventing Childhood Obesity Institute of Medcine, 2004

Physical Activity

Walk With a Doc Program

Why Walking is Wonderful

Brisk Walk Healthier Than Running TheGuardian, 2013

USC Study Finds Social Interaction Key to Get People Walking WSPA, 2012

Correlation Between Exercise and Trying to Conceive WebMD, 2012

In Bike-Friendly Copenhagen, Highways for Cyclists NPR, 2012 

New Yorkers Who Let Their Feet do the Community Can Reap Real Health Benefits NYC.Gov, 2011

Health Care Cost Reduction Through Lifestyle Choices Time, 2011

Statistics on Walking and Cycling Medical News Today, 2011

Walking Speed Could Predict Life Span in Seniors: Study HuffPost, 2011

Your Walking Speed May Predict Your Lifespan, 2011

Walking and Cycling to Health - a Comparative Analysis of City, State, and International Data American Journal of Public Health, 2010

Importance of Physical Exercise in an Educational Environment New York Times, 2010

WalkStation Research Summary, 2010

Making the Link from Transportation to Physical Activity and Obesity Active Living Research, 2009

Cost Savngs and Cost-Effectiveness of Clinical Preventive Care Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2009

Community Barriers to Physical Activity for People with Visual or Motor Impairments American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2008

Cost Effectiveness of Community-Based Physical Activity Interventions American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2008

Critical Factors for Active Transportation to School Among Low-Income and Minority Students American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2008

Walkability and Safety Around Elementary Schools: Economic and Ethnic Disparities American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2008

Walk a Little, Live a Lot Longer Health, 2008

Stairway to Your Health! 2008

Stairway to Health Success Stories 

Why New Yorkers Last Longer NYMagazine, 2007

Using Pedometers to Increase Physical Activity and Improve Health Journal of American Medical Association, 2007

Walking Packs Huge Health Punch Reuters, 2007

Exercise as Prescription, 2007

Forget the Gym - Why Brisk Walk is Really the Best Workout Daily Mail, 2007

A Practical Guide: Helping Sedentary Patients Become More Active, 2007

Relationships Among Dog Ownership and Leisure-Time Walking American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2006

The Big, Fat American Kid Crisis and 10 Things We Should Do About it New York Times, 2006

Healthy Habits Public Service Commission, 2005

Stair-Climbing Challenge Boosts Winter Fitness University of Delaware, 2005

You Can Walk Your Way to Better Health Associated Press, 2005

Walking to Public Transit: Steps to Help Meet Physical Activity Recommendations American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2005

Promoting Walking and Cycling as an Alternative to Using Cars BMJ, 2004

Recommendations to Increase Physical Activity in Communities Elsevier Science Inc., 2002

Health Walks at the Double 2000