Building healthy active communities
- Living where it’s easy to walk to the shops, enjoy time in a park, catch public transport or go for a bike ride can make a big difference in getting the physical activity we need every day.
Participating in regular physical activity is important for your health. Most Australians aren’t getting the physical activity they need. This can shorten life expectancy and increase the risk of heart disease and other non-communicable diseases.
We know that the way our neighbourhoods are designed and built is connected to how much physical activity we do. It’s easier to be active if your local area:
- is close to shops, services, school, and jobs, so you can walk or cycle to them instead of driving
- has facilities like footpaths, road crossings, cycling paths and public transport
- offers spaces that help you feel happier - like green areas, parks, places to relax, and recreation facilities.
Neighbourhood design can also affect other heart disease risk factors. Our food choices can be influenced by the availability of things like fast food outlets, healthier food sources and community gardens. And environments that support social interaction can improve our mental health.
Designing healthier neighbourhoods
Decisions about how land is used can affect the health of Australians now, and for many generations to come.
That’s why we’re working with federal, state and local governments to directly influence the urban planning decisions that affect our communities.
Across Australia, we work on projects that support the adoption of healthy design principles in the planning for new and existing neighbourhoods.
Programs we’re involved in:
- Healthy Active by Design
- Australian Physical Activity Network
- Creating heart-healthy communities (South Australia)
- Healthy active communities (Victoria)
- Active health communities (Queensland)
- Creating healthy communities (New South Wales)
Is your neighbourhood active?
There are lots of ways you can get involved in making your neighbourhood more active:
- Contact your local council to ask what they’re doing about creating active neighbourhoods.
- Use our neighbourhood walkability checklist to assess your neighbourhood.
- Find your local community garden.
- Heart Foundation Local Government Awards
- Heart Foundation program: Healthy by design, Tasmania
- Neighbourhood walkability checklist: How walkable is your neighbourhood? (PDF)
- Heart Foundation and Cycling Promotion Fund's cycling survey report (PDF)
- Lace up: Visit Heart Foundation Walking
- Planning Institute of Australia
- Does density matter? The role of density in creating walkable neighbourhoods discussion paper (PDF)