At A Glance
Utah residents across the state now have increased access to active living spaces for walking and biking. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) collaborated with transportation planning agencies, including the Utah Department of Transportation and metropolitan planning organizations, to build capacity with local health departments to create safe and sustainable walking trails and bike lanes for residents to be more active. The training sessions include educational resources on best practice strategies that improve active living for all.
Public Health Challenge
Approximately 60% of adults in Utah were considered overweight or obese in 2014, according to Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data. Regular physical activity can help prevent obesity and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or stroke for people with and without obesity. Yet, many Utah residents are not getting enough physical activity. According to 2013 BFRSS data, only 55% of Utah adults met minimum national guidelines for physical activity (i.e., 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity weekly). Although Utah has a reputation for popular outdoor recreation, day-to-day physical activity is often a challenge. Often, communities—especially in rural and low-income areas—do not have walking trails or bike lanes that support safe, interconnected spaces for people to be physically active.
UDOH partnered with community organizations and transportation planning agencies across the state to provide local health departments with training to improve active transportation systems. Active transportation plans can help inform future transportation designs for land use. Transportation plans can include components that connect communities through open space systems—such as park trails and bike lanes—to encourage residents to be more physically active in their daily lives. Training topics include using public health data in transportation planning, setting up complete streets policies, and conducting walkability assessments.