Active transport such as walking and cycling has been considered as an effective means to help improve physical and mental health. In fact, there is compelling evidence to show that youth and adolescents who remain active tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and better health.

According to the most recent report from Southwest Public Health, the percentage of our youth who use active transport is similar to the provincial average. However, we could improve the total number active transport hours. Many studies have looked at what helps and hinders active transport.

First is our physical environment. The provision of safe and connected walking and cycling routes are important and much of the infrastructure has been established in our area. A review of the trail map from Railway City Tourism shows that a person can safely transport from Greenway Park in the north of the City all the way to the south and even to Port Stanley! The City in conjunction with Public Health and developers have done a great job to ensure we have the facilities. Attitude towards active transport is another determining factor. Studies show that parental involvement and societal influences (friends, social media) impact how we view and use active transport.

Making active transport a fun and social event rather than a chore can increase uptake. DDB events, such as the Pumpkin Prowl, encourage parents and kids to be active as they go store to store along the Downtown. Activities, such as geocaching where participants use a GPS receiver or mobile device to find “caches” or treasurers placed at specific coordinates, are a lot of fun and encourage active transport around the city. We have an amazing and beautiful city.

There is a huge opportunity to view it up close rather than simply driving through it. Make a commitment to actively transport; it will help your physical and mental health. Take care of yourselves and each other.