Studies show that as little as 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity exercise (such as bicycling, walking, in-line skating, or cross country skiing) can significantly improve mental and physical health and prevent certain diseases. Greenways contribute to public health by encouraging more people to walk or bike to short-distance destinations. Providing opportunities for participation in these outdoor activities close to where people live and work is an important component of promoting healthy lifestyles.
In 1987, the President's Commission on Americans Outdoors released a report that profiled the modern pursuit of leisure and defined the quality of life for many Americans. Limited access to outdoor resources was cited as a growing problem throughout the nation. The commission recommended that a national system of greenways could provide all Americans with access to linear open space resources. The Valparaiso Pathways and Greenways system will complement the community's existing parks and open-space system and serve as a primary recreation and fitness resource.