N4L 132: "Fit Cities" by Dr. Karen K. Lee

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Med student turned public health detective, Dr. Karen K. Lee chronicles her decades-long professional journey in her recent book, Fit Cities: My Quest to Improve the World's Health and Wellness—Including Yours. As a built environment advisor, she helps gather data about how we eat, build, and move. Typical assessments include walkability, availability of healthy food sources, lunch menus, physical education curricula, work-site amenities, and building design. From her work, she has developed "Active Design" principles to build environments that promote a healthy lifestyle.

IDEAS FOR CREATING FIT CITIES

  • Offer multiple transportation options that include opportunities to walk.
  • Post signs to encourage more stair-climbing.
  • Dance with your children.
  • Limit sugary drinks, including juices.
  • Eliminate food deserts; make healthy food accessible and affordable.
  • Pedestrianize congested spaces.
  • Plan open-street events (e.g., “Summer Streets” in NYC).
  • Help citizen voices for “Fit Cities” be heard.
  • Offer exercise equipment for parents as they watch their children play sports.
  • Incentivize street vendors to offer healthy food options.
  • Organize “Fit City” conferences to build cross-discipline relationships.

QUOTES FROM LEE

  • “If our cities and towns become fit and healthy, we will find it easier to become fit and healthy too.”
  • “Physical activity experts suggest that, if the average adult was to climb [stairs] just an extra two minutes per day, we could offset the average weight gains that most of us are experiencing in an average year.”
  • “We must recognize that we are not alone in the battle to stay fit and healthy, and that solving the problem will require a concerted, cooperative effort across many disciplines.”
  • “Disasters…illustrate for us just how important it is that our homes, schools, workplaces, and grocery stores be at walkable distances from each other.”
  • “In a disaster, people walk. They walk because they have to. Cars are often ordered off the roads and public transportation often has to shut down, even if temporarily.”

BUY Fit Cities: My Quest to Improve the World's Health and Wellness--Including Yours

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