Study Reveals Maui and Hawaii Policies Don't Promote Fitness

HAWAII (KHNL) -- University of Hawaii researchers who specialize in public health made an important discovery. They learned two outer island counties have few policies in place to promote physical activity.

The data indicates both Maui and Hawaii counties need to re-evaluate the way planners incorporate sidewalks and bike lanes for pedestrians and cyclists. Imagine the health benefits if you could walk or ride your bike to work, school or even run errands.

"It's only recently that public health and policy have come together to show the importance of how things in the environment can impact the physical activity of the people who use that environment," said Heinrich.

She and other UH professors discovered the islands of Maui and Hawaii have few policies in place to promote an active lifestyle. "These are the policies related to physical activities, sidewalks, bikeways greenways, policies for commercial buildings that support physical activity for pedestrians," Heinrich explained.

The concept is "multi-use" communities where you can walk to shopping, work and then home.

"The more sidewalks that are available in the community, the more people are likely to go out and walk the other being connectivity. If it is easy to walk from one place to another, people are more likely to chose non-motorized transportation," added Heinrich.

The researchers also encourage outer island communities to demand increased recreational facilities

Heinrich concluded, "If there is a path or trail or park that is easily accessible people are going to use it, rather than if they are small or hidden or don't have very good facilities."