skip to content
Insights Blog

Reducing the Impact of Chronic Disease through Transportation Planning

Insights blog - Reducing the impact of chronic disease through Transportation Planning - Gannett Fleming.
Authors: Keith Chase, Strategy and Management Consultant and Michelle Brummer, AICP, Project Manager and Senior Planner

The Impact of Chronic Disease

Both the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Public Agency of Canada provide awareness and education materials to help minimize the impact of chronic disease. Although there are slight differences in definition between agencies, both agree that chronic diseases are those that require ongoing medical attention, are treatable but have no cure, and limit personal activity.

Both agencies agree that a lifestyle with controlled environmental factors plays a role in reducing chronic disease rates. The U.S. spends more than $3 trillion per year treating chronic disease and mental health, and in Canada it costs $190 billion Canadian dollars ($135 billion).

Engaging in Physical Activity to Reduce Impacts

According to the CDC, physical activity (reference chart below) offers several benefits to reduce and prevent chronic disease, which  include:

  • Immediate benefits for brain health and improved sleeping patterns
  • Improved weight management
  • Reduced health risks associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and some cancers
  • Stronger bones and muscles
  • Improved ability to do daily activities and prevent falls
  • Increased life expectancy.
Age Group Recommended Physical Activity Level
Children 3-5 years old Every day throughout the day
Children and adolescents 60 minutes a day and a vigorous 60 minutes at least 3 days a week
Adults 18-64 years old 150 minutes a week with 2 days focused on strengthening muscles
Adults older than 65 150 minutes a week with 2 days focused on strengthening muscles and activities that improve balance

Physical Activity during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many health officials have encouraged people to engage in physical activity while complying with stay-at-home orders. Historically, a major national crisis changed social patterns. For example, the Great Depression changed the government’s role in the economy—making investments in infrastructure, public works, and others. Sept. 11 changed the way we view security and travel. It is reasonable to assume that COVID-19 will ultimately bring about permanent changes such as how, when, and where we work and even greater attention on public hygiene and illness prevention.

During this time, when so many of us are staying home, why not use this time as a springboard for a commitment to better health moving forward? Why not use this as a personal call to action to meet the recommendations for daily and weekly physical activity so that we are less susceptible to chronic disease in the long run?

How Gannett Fleming Helps Communities Reduce the Impact of Chronic Disease

Our core values include ensuring that we have a positive impact on the communities we serve. Every day, our professionals engage in the planning, design, construction, and operations of infrastructure that focuses on meeting the social determinants of health.

Specifically, Gannett Fleming’s more than 100 transportation planning professionals are engaged in activities that help communities plan for better health. These include connecting routes and destinations with active transportation alternatives, ensuring that projects result in walkable, bikeable, sustainable, and smart communities.

We also focus on helping public health agencies think about the impact of the transportation system on epidemiology and surveillance activities, as well as how transportation can be part of environmental approaches to address the problem. For example, we recently completed the 2045 Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan for the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization. This progressive plan fully embraces the idea of complete streets, improved ordinances and policies, shared use, and mobility to make the Miami-Dade area a more active and vibrant community.

Transportation planners collaborate with a diverse set of professionals to achieve these goals, including:

  • Urban/City planners and designers
  • Demographers and GIS professionals
  • Transportation, structural, and industrial engineers
  • Health professionals
  • Meteorologists
  • Safety and security professionals.

Get Involved with Your Community to Help

  • Get out and get active to learn what improvements will help you sustain an active lifestyle.
  • Attend public meetings and make sure to consider pedestrians and bicycles in transportation planning and engineering projects.

Similar Blogs: Company, Corporate, Leadership, People, Transportation: Planning, Safety, Transportation