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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Community Design - Active Communities

Currently, only 49% of Canadian adults and 44% of children and youth get the recommended amount of exercise needed for health benefits.1 Active community design can make it easier for people of all ages to live active lifestyles.


An active community is designed to support people’s everyday physical activity choices.

Physical activity provides numerous health benefits including reducing the risk of over 25 chronic conditions such as:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • certain types of cancer
  • osteoporosis
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure,
  • depression
  • stress and anxiety 2

Active Community Design

An active community is a community that is designed to be well connected and where it is easy to use active transportation (human power such as walking, cycling, roller blading, wheel-chairing, public transit, etc.) to get to places such as:

  • school
  • shopping
  • work and
  • recreation

Active community design can also:

  • reduce the risk of injuries
  • improve air quality
  • reduce traffic congestion and
  • reduce negative impacts on climate change.3 4

Active community design supports active transportation by making connections to the places people want to travel using:

  • sidewalks
  • multi-use pathways
  • on-road cycling facilities
  • public transit
Father holding sons hand


Active & Safe Routes to School


Give Active Transportation A Go!

Having a variety of transportation options and routes that provide easy access to the places people need to travel to and that are attractive can encourage regular physical activity. This type of design can also support social interaction and provide people with a sense of place and belonging.

Additional Information

To learn more about active community design, please see Active City: Designing for Health.

Date of creation: November 23, 2016
Last modified on: May 13, 2022


1Statistics Canada. (2021, Sept 01). Canadian Health Measures Survey: Activity monitor data, 2018-2019. Retrieved from
2Toronto Public Health, City of Toronto Planning, City of Toronto Transportation Services and Gladki Planning Associates. (May 2014). Active City: Designing for Health. Retrieved from
3Healthy Canada by Design CLASP. (2013). Active Transportation, Health and Community Design. Retrieved from
4Toronto Public Health. (2012). The Walkable City: Neighbourhood Design and Preferences, Travel Choices and Health. Retrieved from