Recently released report cards evaluate how each US state is doing regarding investing transportation dollars, committing resources, and establishing policies to support walkable communities.

The report cards were compiled by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership for YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) and funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to support the US Surgeon General’s call to make walkable communities a priority to help address the rising rates of chronic disease across the US.

“According to the CDC, of the 2.6 million deaths in the United States each year, over 280,000 can be prevented through sufficient physical activity and healthier eating,” says Neal Denton, YMCA of the USA Senior Vice President/Chief Government Affairs Officer, in a media release.

“Making communities more walkable is an easy way to encourage physical activity, improve health, strengthen communities economically and reduce employee absenteeism. These report cards will help states see where they are doing well in this regard, and where they need improvement,” he adds.

According to the release, each state was evaluated using 24 indicators across four strategic areas: complete streets and active transportation, safe routes to school and active transportation funding, active neighborhoods and schools, and state physical activity planning.

The report, Making Strides: 2016 State Report Cards on Support for Walking, Bicycling, and Active Kids and Communities, discusses the importance of these strategic areas and how each one helps communities become more walkable.

“States have a crucial role in promoting physical activity through the decisions they make on funding investments, the enactment of policies and providing staff expertise,” states Cass Isidro, executive director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, in the release.

The study includes not only each state’s report cards, but also an overview of the research that supports walking, bicycling, and physical activity as ways to improve health; the rationale for state-level report cards; a detailed explanation of how the states were graded; and reflections on the state of physical activity in different regions and the country as a whole.

“While walking is a way to begin and maintain an active lifestyle, there are strategies we need to put in place to ensure safe spaces to walk and wheelchair roll are accessible to everyone,” Denton says in the release. “The 50 YMCA state alliances look forward to working with partners and their state leaders to advance those strategies and help people across the nation be as healthy as they can be.”

[Source(s): YMCA of the USA, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, PR Newswire]