In the early 2000s, there was a great deal of interest in how the physical environment affects physical activity and how changes in the environment can promote active living. These issues captured public attention as well as the attention of professionals in public health, planning, and design.
This toolkit was prepared by Ann Forsyth, then of the Metropolitan Design Center for a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota-sponsored conference, Health Implications of Community Design: Moving to Combat Obesity. It represents the best knowledge at the time, although this is a fast-moving research area and readers should also read the Key Question Research Summary on Physical Activity as it is based on more recent information.
The toolkit starts with general information on how the environment matters in physical activity and then provides more detail about four key dimensions of the environment: density, street pattern, mixed-use, and pedestrian infrastructure. The toolkit is focused on walking rather than cycling, because it is an activity that is inexpensive, does not require special equipment, and almost everyone does it already every day.
The toolkit was slightly updated for a presentation in Duluth in 2005.