Switching Gears to a Healthier Helena

Health Benefits of Active Transportation

Often when we think about overall health, we think about skipping that second brownie or limiting our intake of French fries or stepping on the elliptical for a 30-minute workout.

Yes, those are important. But how and where we live, work and play also impacts how healthy we are. Integrating activity into our daily lives — and living in environments where that is easy to do — makes good health more accessible to all.

The U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 days a week. Children need twice that much, or an hour a day. Physical activity is a key factor in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, and it offers many additional benefits.

Source: jeffparishbikeplan.org

Source: jeffparishbikeplan.org

People who are physically active are less likely to develop:

  • coronary heart disease, the nation’s leading cause of death
  • high blood pressure
  • type 2 diabetes
  • osteoporosis
  • certain cancers

In addition, physical activity reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, promotes healthy bones and joints, and reduces arthritis pain. For school children, exercise is associated with improved academic outcomes and reduced anxiety, depression and disruptive behavior.

Building our neighborhoods and streets in ways that are safe and accessible to all transportation users (pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as vehicles) not only increases our options for physical activity but improves air quality and creates a sense of community.

A variety of transportation options allow everyone particularly people with disabilities and older adults to get out and stay connected to their community.