Active Communities

Regular physical activity is a key component to improving health and wellbeing. People who are moderately or vigorously active lower their risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and osteoporosis. Regular physical activity can significantly improve our mental health. Exercise can sharpen thinking, learning and judgment skills, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and help us sleep better.

Currently fewer than half of all Americans get the physical activity they need to provide health benefits, and 25% of adults are not active at all in their leisure time. In Maine, only 23.7% of youth get their recommended level of exercise (60 minutes per day). Only 56% of Maine adults get their recommended levels of physical activity (30 minutes, 5 times per week).

Physical Activity does not have to be strenuous and highly time-consuming to be beneficial. As an example, for adults, walking 30 minutes 5 times a week can benefit our health and wellbeing. For youth, participating in school sports, engaging in after school activities, or walking to school can provide the recommended exercise to promote health and wellbeing.

Click here for an inspiring and informative 30-minute video entitled, "The Walking Revolution"

Opportunities abound to improve access to physical activity throughout Downeast Acadia. Healthy Acadia and our partners are engaged in multiple initiatives to promote active communities, including:

Healthy Transportation
Healthy Recreation
Land Use Planning

Let's Go! 5-2-1-0


Healthy Transportation

One of the principle ways we build exercise into our lives is through healthy modes of transportation, including walking and biking. This initiative promotes both the construction and the use of sidewalks, shoulders and paths as preferred corridors for transportation. Healthy Acadia promotes multiple projects to increase opportunities for daily healthy transportation for people of all ages.

Go Maine!
Safe Routes to Schools
Transportation Alternatives (Coming Soon)
Complete Streets
Transit Buses
Walk and Bike to School Days
Bike to Work Week

Downeast Transportation, Inc.
Friends In Action, Hancock County
Hancock County Planning Commission
Maine Department of Transportation competitive grants for transportation alternatives
Washington Hancock Community Agency

For more information, contact:

James H. Fisher, PhD, AICP
District Coordinator, Downeast Public Health Council,

Elsie Flemings, Executive Director, Healthy Acadia,

Patrick Adams, Bicycle Pedestrian Program Manager, MaineDOT,

Healthy Recreation

Healthy recreation serves as an important way in which we can incorporate physical activity into our daily lives. Many opportunities exist throughout the region for people of all ages to participate in active recreation. Outdoor walking, biking and hiking trails are excellent resources to enjoy nature and get exercise at no cost. Community centers, YMCAs, Senior Centers and Schools all provide recreational opportunities at varying costs. Community organizations provide a wide range of active recreational programming, from martial arts and yoga to pilates and dancing.

Acadia National Park (Schoodic Mount Desert Island regions)
Downeast Sunrise Trail (Ellsworth to Calais)
Birdsacre, Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary (Ellsworth)
Woodlawn Museum Trails (Ellsworth)
Ellsworth Falls Trail (Ellsworth)
Downeast YMCA (Ellsworth)
MDI YMCA (Bar Harbor)
Harbor House (Southwest Harbor)
Neighborhood House (Northeast Harbor)
Calais Recreation Center (Calais)
Maine Department of Conservation Trails Grants

For more information, contact:
Elsie Flemings, Healthy Acadia,

Land Use Planning

The environment around us shapes our health and our daily behavior. Impacts on our health, rising gasoline prices, and growing concern about climate change are among the factors encouraging us to find alternatives to automobile dependent sprawl. Land use planning is a process for communities to shape their spatial form and patterns of activities for long-term economic, social, and physical health. Healthy Acadia supports many opportunities to build communities in ways that support health, enhance the quality of life, and promote prosperity.

Smart Growth
Transit-Oriented Development
Great American Neighborhoods
Comprehensive Planning

Growsmart Maine
Hancock County Planning Commission Technical Assistance
Maine Department of Conservation
Maine Department of Economic and Community Development
Maine Department of Transportation competitive grants for transportation alternatives
Maine Department of Conservation Trails Grants

For more information, contact:James H. Fisher, PhD, AICP
District Coordinator, Downeast Public Health Council,

Elsie Flemings, Healthy Acadia,

Thomas Martin, Director, Hancock County Planning Commission,

Healthy Acadia offers Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 programming opportunities and resources for communities in Washington and Hancock counties. Let’s Go!         5-2-1-0, developed by the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center and implemented in partnership with MaineHealth, incorporates evidence-based strategies for preventing obesity, with a focus on the importance of establishing healthy habits beginning in childhood. 

The Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program offers targeted curriculum and guidance for schools, childcare centers, out-of-school programs, healthcare practices and community organizations to change environments where children and families live, learn and play. Programming is centered around the daily 5-2-1-0 message: 5 or more fruits and vegetables; 2 hours or less of recreational screen time; 1 hour or more of physical exercise; and 0 sugar-sweetened beverages. Healthy Acadia staff works with childcare facilities, school, and out-of-school programs throughout Hancock and Washington counties to implement the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program, which provides participating sites with toolkits, online resources, training opportunities and technical assistance to help guide them in successfully supporting increased physical activity and healthy eating for children and youth.

Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 Downeast is a partnership among Healthy Acadia and four regional hospitals -  Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, Down East Community Hospital, Maine Coast Memorial Hospital, and Mount Desert Island Hospital - aimed at improving the health of Maine youth and families in Hancock and Washington counties. 

For Let's Go! resources and programming opportunities in Hancock County, contact Julie Daigle at 667-7171 or In Washington County please contact Georgie Kendall at 255-3741 or

We build our towns and organize community systems to create ample opportunities for walking, biking and social movement. Physical activity is a viable option for recreation and transportation.
An Ellsworth resident conducts a sidewalk survey to identify strengths and challenges of the neighborhood for sidewalk access.