Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
For Journalists
Allison Hydzik
Senior Manager
Telephone: 412-647-9975
Senior Director
Telephone: 412-586-9777

Want to Make an Appointment or Need Patient Information?

Contact UPMC at
1-800-533-UPMC (8762).

Go to Find a Doctor to search for a UPMC doctor.​

Pitt Public Health Partners with the State to Increase Physical Activity in Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 14, 2014 – The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health is collaborating with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to increase physical activity in Pennsylvania.

Pitt Public Health will receive $1 million to increase active transportation — such as walking, jogging or bicycling — in communities served by several target school districts. WalkWorks, the title of the four-year initiative, will build on previous efforts and complement school-based activities to address childhood obesity.

“There are so many benefits to walking, from improving one’s physical and mental health to reducing traffic congestion and pollution,” said Linda Duchak, Ed.M., M.C.H.E.S., project leader and associate director of the Center for Public Health Practice at Pitt Public Health. “It’s important that communities consider pedestrian transportation as a critical component of transportation and infrastructure planning.”

The communities that the project will serve in the first year are in the school districts of Purchase Line, Indiana County; Kane Area in McKean County; Altoona Area in Blair County; and Albert Gallatin, Fayette County. Additionally, a walking project will be established within the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg.

“The Pennsylvania Department of Health is proud to once again partner with the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health to help create healthier communities throughout the commonwealth,” said Secretary of Health Michael Wolf. “Engaging in regular physical activity, such as walking, can lead to improvements in health and aligns with the department’s mission to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent injury and disease.”

By involving community-based partners from multiple sectors, such as health care providers, social service agencies and local governments, Ms. Duchak and her team will identify, map and mark safe and accessible walking routes, and establish and promote local walking groups.

As part of WalkWorks, the Center for Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering will conduct walkability assessments in the target communities to identify strengths, opportunities and solutions related to pedestrian transportation. 

“WalkWorks promotes active transportation by identifying infrastructure needed for pedestrian activity. This is a goal of our multi-modal transportation system in Pennsylvania. We look forward to working with WalkWorks and the Pennsylvania Department of Health,” said Mark Magalotti, P.E., M.S.C.E., co-director of the Center for Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure.

Pitt Public Health and the Swanson School also will provide technical assistance to their community-based partners and transportation planners to promote infrastructure planning, design, implementation and maintenance policies to create roadways that safely accommodate all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists.

“The goal is to influence local and regional planning efforts so that pedestrian facilities are considered and enhancements are made to the existing transportation network,” said Ms. Duchak, also an assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. “We want to make it easy for people to enjoy walking in their communities. The associated health benefits will follow.”

For more information about WalkWorks, please visit

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |