In Bicycling, Bike to work, Climate Change, Design, health, Land Use, On The Move, Public Health, Safety, Street Smart NJ, Transit, Transportation, walk and bike to school, Walking, Winter Biking

February is American Heart Health Month. President Lyndon Johnson issued the first proclamation in 1964. Since then, United States presidents have declared it annually to raise awareness about heart disease. It is a time when we can all focus on cardiovascular health. Although this is your yearly reminder to take care of your heart, there are things you can do all year long that make a difference in your overall health, including heart health.

You’ve probably heard by now that sitting all day comes with a high risk of heart disease. Sitting for long periods of time can certainly take its toll on your health. Physical activity, along with managing stress and diet, has a positive effect on your health.  Here are a few steps you can take to keep your heart healthy:

  • Keep your walking routine going – many people started walking every day during the pandemic. If you are one of them keep that going every day, 30 minutes of walking per day can help your overall health as well as your mental health. Or you can start walking your children to school – if that is an option. Studies show that children who are physically active before school arrive more energized and focused to learn. Additionally, children who are physically active have better moods, self-image, self-confidence, and fewer chronic health problems.
  • Biking gets your heart pumping with minimal impact on your joints – Incorporate bicycling into your daily routine. Some ways to do that are by bicycling to work a few times a week, biking your kids to school, bicycling for a few of your errands, and just for fun!
  • Be social – spending time with other people is good for your heart. Go for a walk or hike with your family and/or your friends. This way the whole family gets to spend time outdoors, get fresh air, and be physically active.
  • Keep your stress in check – try yoga and/or mindfulness to keep stress levels down and protect your health. You can try mindful walkingfor added impact on both physical and mental health.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods including fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and beans or other legumes. For added benefits, walk or bike to the grocery store. And if walking and biking are not possible, try parking farther away from the entrance. 

Active transportation is an overall solution that is good for our physical health but it is also good for the health of our local economies and helps fight the environmental crisis caused by air pollution. Creating dynamic connected communities encourages a higher quality of life that promotes small business development, increases property values, and sparks tourism. How our communities are designed has a direct correlation with sufficient or insufficient physical activity. Sprawl, unwalkable, car-dependent communities are less likely to have road infrastructure that allows for safe biking and walking which has a negative impact on our physical and mental health.

The following list consists of examples of how safer street design can positively impact active transportation options:

  • Sidewalks
  • Bike lanes and bike racks
  • Traffic calming measures
  • Crosswalks and signals
  • Aesthetics and placemaking efforts, such as public art and fountains
  • Public space including parks and plazas
  • Street trees and plants
  • Green infrastructure, including greenways and community gardens.
  • Street furniture, including benches, bus shelters, and signage


Americans have some of the highest rates of diabetes, heart disease, asthma, certain cancers, and poor mental health. It is an unfortunate reality that all of these conditions are linked to insufficient physical activity (among other factors). Ultimately, we do have some control over our heart health. Small lifestyle changes, like choosing active transportation, can have huge health benefits.  Being active doesn’t need to be a time set aside for exercise. You can easily add active time to your day by choosing to walk or bike rather than drive for short trips, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  Walking to the bus stop or from a distant parking spot counts too—and it all adds up to better heart health!

We at Greater Mercer TMA focus on helping our communities with programs that help to keep you moving and work to improve safety, mobility, and sustainability.










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