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Active Living is an aspect of area of psychology research that looks at the effects of integrating physical activity into daily routines (like walking to the store or biking to work) through focusing on the built environment.

Active Living brings together psychologists, urban planners, architects, transportation engineers, public health professionals and others to build places that encourage routine activity. One example includes efforts to build sidewalks, crosswalks and other ways for children to walk safely to and from school. Compact, mixed-use development, where residential uses are located close to stores, jobs and recreational opportunities (parks, etc.) has also been found to encourage a more active lifestyle.


Active Living is a growing field that emerged from the early work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the release of the Surgeon's General Report on Physical Activity and Health in 1996. In 1997, the CDC began the development of an initiative called Active Community Environments (ACEs) coordinated by Rich Killingsworth (the founding director of Active Living by Design) and Tom Schmid, a senior health scientist. The main programming thrust of ACEs was an emerging initiative called Safe Routes to School that was catalyzed by a program designed by Rich Killingsworth and Jessica Shisler at CDC called KidsWalk-to-School. This program provided much needed attention to the connections of the built environment and health, especially obesity and physical inactivity. In 2000, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation formerly launched their Active Living initiative which comprised three national programs - Active Living by Design, Active Living Research, and Active for Life. The main goal of these programs was to develop an understanding how the built environment impacts physical activity and what could be done to increase physical activity.

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