Physical Activity

Access to parks, trails, sidewalks and bike lanes help make physical activity part of daily life.

Our surroundings — the places where we live, learn, work and play — have a significant impact on how we live our daily lives. Whether we hop on a bike or drive to work. If our children walk or get a ride to school. Whether we hit the trails or load up the car for a weekend trip. 

Why is this important? Because a lack of physical activity is a major risk factor for many preventable diseases.   

When communities are designed to provide safe opportunities to walk, bike and play outside, we’re more likely to be active. Likewise, dangerous traffic patterns and a lack of sidewalks, crosswalks, protected bikeways and open spaces, can discourage active lifestyles. For example:

  • People who live near trails are 50 percent more likely to meet physical activity guidelines.
  • People who live in walkable neighborhoods are twice as likely to get enough physical activity as those who don’t.
  • Teens who live in poor or mostly minority neighborhoods are 50 percent less likely to have a recreational facility near home.
  • The number of children who are physically active outside is 84 percent higher when schoolyards are kept open for public play.1

As a result, people who live in communities that face barriers to physical activity tend to be at a higher risk for developing preventable diseases.  

The Center for Prevention works with communities of all sizes that are considering how their design can impact residents’ physical activity levels. We also fund organizations like Nice Ride Minnesota, that are working to change social norms related to active transportation. And we’re working on state and local policies— including Safe Routes to School and Complete Streets initiatives — which provide the resources for communities to make vital changes to their transportation infrastructure.   

Making Minnesota a place where everyone has the opportunity to engage in an active lifestyle requires a commitment from multiple sectors and stakeholders. It also relies heavily on community demand. We’re proud to play a role. 

Related links

1 Active Living Research. The Role of Communities in Promoting Physical Activity. 2012. Available here: 

  • Making Healthy Choices Possible for All Minnesotans

    The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota tackles the leading causes of preventable disease -- tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating -- to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state.