Date of Award

Winter 5-3-2022

Thesis Access

Open Access Honors Thesis

Degree Name



Exercise and Sport Science

Faculty Advisor

Rachael German


Most adults in the United States are not getting enough physical activity, and this is causing high rates of adverse health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the population. The rising costs of cardiovascular disease are a national problem that must be tackled from multiple perspectives. This literature review explores policies and infrastructure implemented in European countries with better health outcomes and higher physical activity levels in the population compared to the United States. The infrastructure in places such as Germany and Denmark is constructed to encourage physical activity in the form of active transportation such as walking or biking, while most cities in the United States are heavily car dependent. Although changing the infrastructure and car culture of the United States is not simple, many of the policies which are implemented in European cities to encourage physical activity can be successfully used in the United States. Initiatives such as building bike lanes, renovating parks, implementing zoning laws to keep cities more walkable, fixing the public transportation system, and establishing legal protections for community gardens were considered in this literature review. It was found that along with physical infrastructure improvements and policy changes, it is also important to advertise physical activity as being safe and enjoyable to change longstanding cultural attitudes surrounding physical activity in the United States.