Action Planning Guide for Physically Active Communities

Key points

  • The Action Planning Guide identifies specific steps to design active communities.
  • The goal is for the built environment to encourage physical activity.
  • The guide includes implementation resources.
Active Communities Tool Action Planning Guide design element


The Action Planning Guide is part of the Active Communities Tool. It can help cross-sector teams create an action plan for improving built environments so they promote physical activity. The guide outlines specific steps of the planning process, such as:

  • Leveraging cross-sector commitment by identifying disciplines to consider for inclusion on the cross-sector team.
  • Understanding the community's plans, policies, and resources for improving community built environments for physical activity.
  • Completing the Active Communities Tool's Assessment Modules to identify opportunities for action or engagement.
  • Considering the potential actions that best align with the relevant transportation or land use planning cycle.

Built environment definition‎

The built environment includes the physical makeup of where we live, learn, work, and play. It involves roads, sidewalks, open spaces, and transportation options, as well as homes, schools, and businesses. The built environment can influence overall community health and individual behaviors, such as physical activity and healthy eating.

Each section of the guide provides resources to help users create their action plans. Whenever possible, the guide prioritizes free, publicly accessible, current, and practical "how-to" documents from federal agencies, national organizations, or CDC-funded partners.

Begin with the resources for leveraging cross-sector commitment (item 2 below) or skip ahead to the section that best describes the current stage of your work.

  1. Background
  2. Leveraging Cross-Sector Commitment
  3. Understanding the Community Context to Inform Selection of Potential Actionable Areas
  4. Developing an Action Plan
  5. Evaluating the Impact
  6. Integrating Improvements into a Lasting Community-wide Effort

The full Action Planning Guide is available below.