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Establishing Best Practices for Changing the Built Environment to Promote Physical Activity

  • Paul A. Simon
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Paul A. Simon, MD, MPH, Director, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 3530 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 800, Los Angeles CA 90010
    Affiliations
    Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, California

    University of California at Los Angeles School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California
    Search for articles by this author
  • Jonathan E. Fielding
    Affiliations
    Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, California

    University of California at Los Angeles School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California

    University of California at Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California
    Search for articles by this author
      In the 1989 film, Field of Dreams, an Iowa farmer (Kevin Costner) hears a mysterious voice urging him to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield (If you build it, he will come.). Although the story is more about personal dreams than active living, it is very appealing to think that the “he” could be the masses drawn to a magical field, or any recreational venue, for the purpose of play, be it on a rural plot of land or in an inner city neighborhood. However, what is the evidence that merely building a field or facility will be an effective promoter of physical activity in the surrounding community? Does its presence need to be accompanied by structured programs, promotional campaigns, or other outreach efforts—and, if so, to what degree? Are there related issues, such as neighborhood safety, that need to be addressed? Beyond recreational venues, what are the other land-use and community design elements that most effectively promote physical activity? To what degree do these elements contribute to either recreational or utilitarian activity?
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