The community we live in has a large number of kids, but you rarely see them outside playing. Many of these kids, when you watch them waiting at the school bus stops - often with their parents sitting in cars after the long eighth mile drive - are obviously out of shape. One has to wonder if parents, worried about protecting their kids from very rare events that get a lot of publicity on TV are forcing their kids into inactivity that is almost guaranteed to harm their health - sort of a protective house arrest with consequences they haven't considered...
Earlier I posted a link to a series of articles that appeared in The Lancet noting that lack of exercise is responsible for an enormous number of medical problems. Here is a popular audience summary for those who may not want to read the papers (I've only read three of them myself)
Increasing physical activity may be one of the most cost effective ways to improve costs associated with the healthcare system and there are many other benefits too. But changing behavior - especially if effort is required - is non-trivial and perhaps the foot's errand.
Denmark and the Netherlands have moved rather dramatically to active transportation and both countries partly fund projects by pointing to savings in healthcare. Recently I posted a bit on a new "bicycle super highway" in Copenhagen. Jörgen from Amsterdam wrote to point out that this is old hat in his country and that the Netherlands is "far ahead of Denmark" when it comes to making active transportation work. He notes that announcements of Danish successes are often circulated in his country as reasons to improve their own system. You have to love this sort of competition.
a few links from Jörgen
Their goal seems to be to focus on getting people who commute less than 15 kilometers (about 9 miles) each way to give up their cars and public transit as much as possible and shift to bikes or, for very short trips, walking.
One wonders if such routes existed in the US how many would use them?