March 30, 2007

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc
Resource Coordinator
Alberta Centre for Active Living


WHO addresses EU ministerial conference on disease prevention through healthy diets and physical activity
The WHO Assistant Director-General of Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health participated in the EU Conference, “Prevention for Health. Nutrition and Physical Activity—A Key to Healthy Living.” This conference took place on 26-27 February 2007 in Badenweiler, Germany, within the framework of the German EU Council Presidency. At the invitation of the German Minister of Health, Dr Catherine Le Gal├Ęs-Camus moderated a session on “Political Strategies for the Future” as well as a session on “Civil Society and its Demands on Prevention Politics.”

The conference was organized on the theme of the “Presidency Baton—Disease prevention and health promotion in the area of physical activity and nutrition,” which passes this issue like a baton from one Council Presidency to the next, ensuring close links between the priorities pursued in the past and future. Past Presidencies have included the following: Finnish (“Health in all Policies”), Austrian (“Diabetes”) and British (“Health and Social Inequality”). Future Presidencies include Portugal (“Health and Migration”) and Slovenia (“Cancer Prevention”).

The conference's more than 250 participants supported the European Commission's initiative to produce a White Paper on the prevention of overweight and welcomed WHO's European Charter on Counteracting Obesity.

Read the Badenweiler Declaration: WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, WHO's European Charter on Counteracting Obesity:


Neighbourhood-level active living buoys for individuals with physical disabilities
Spivock, M., Gauvin, L., & Brodeur, J.-M. (March 2007). Neighbourhood-level active living buoys for individuals with physical disabilities. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 32(3), 224-230
Analyses performed in 2006 show that few neighbourhoods in this large urban area are equipped with environmental buoys that might support active living among people with physical disabilities. Lower levels of environmental buoys to promote active living among those with disabilities were most strongly associated with lower levels of neighborhood activity-friendliness...

Public parks and physical activity among adolescent girls
The goal of this study was to examine the association between park proximity, park type, and park features and physical activity in adolescent girls. The study concluded that adolescent girls who live near more parks, particularly near those with amenities that are conducive to walking and with active features, engage in more non-school metabolic equivalent-weighted moderate/vigorous physical activity than those with fewer parks. Whether this is because of actual use of the parks or neighbourhood choice could not be determined.


Using a SWOT analysis to inform health promotion planning for a remote First Nation community
The objectives of this study were to explore eating and physical activity behaviours in First Nation youth living in a remote, sub-Arctic community, to focus on developing community capacity (e.g. training, skills) and to use an adapted SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threat) analysis to inform health promotion planning within the community.

We can! (Ways to enhance children’s activity and nutrition)
Developed by the National Institutes of Health, this is a flexible, turn-key obesity prevention program with ready-made materials. More than 140 community sites around the country have signed on to join We Can! They are using We Can!’s many resources, including the We Can! Energize Our Family: Curriculum for Parents and Caregivers, science-based curricula for youth, and We Can! local community events. Learn about a new obesity prevention program from NIH, including one for parents and caregivers focused on healthy weight through energy balance; media-smart youth; Eat, Think, and Be Active!; CATCH kids club; and S.M.A.R.T (Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television).

Women: Get active in sport & recreation

Practical tip sheet for women on how to get active in sport. Includes How should I start?, Where to find out more about sport and recreation, and Hints for maintaining physical activity (from Australia).

March 23, 2007

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc
Resource Coordinator
Alberta Centre for Active Living


Sport ministers want $15 billion for facilities
CBC News (Mon 26 Feb 2007) reports that provincial and territorial ministers responsible for sport met in Whitehorse last week in conjunction with the Canada games and agreed that updated sports facilities are essential to key to improved health, better performance and addressing the obesity epidemic. They said that the federal government needs to spend $15 billion on new rinks, pools and recreation facilities.

Video game for fitness.
A study released in the United Kingdom last month suggests that Video gamers using the Wii Sports game burn more than 1,800 calories over 12 hours of play (that's the average time gamers spend playing every week), which could translate into 12 kilograms of weight loss. The system seems to appeal to both males and females, and the International Sports Sciences Association endorses Wii as a way to motivate inactive people to be more active. Another game system called Dance Dance Revolution (played on a dance pad equipped with pressure-sensitive panels that ranks a player's foot placement against a song or beat) encourages players to get their full body active.


Increasing physical activity among church members: Community-based participatory research
Wilcox, Laken, Bopp, Gethers, Huang, McClorin, Parrott, Swinton, and Yancey (February 2007). Am. Journal of Preventive Medicine, 32 (2).
This study evaluated the effects of a volunteer-led statewide program to increase physical activity among members of African-American churches.....Although this intervention reached a large number of churches and created awareness of intervention components, no effects on physical activity behaviors were found. Potential reasons for the lack of significant effects are discussed.


Promoting healthy diets and physical activity
Eighty per cent of deaths attributable to chronic diseases—heart attacks, strokes, cancers and diabetes—happen in developing countries, where those affected are younger than in developed countries. At the same time, two out of three overweight and obese people now live in developing countries, the vast majority in emerging markets and transition economies. WHO is helping developing countries to accelerate the development of national action plans to promote behaviour that includes healthy diet and physical activity, and foster energy balance.
Download PDF: World report on chronic disease prevention (

Stats Canada releases A Portrait of Seniors
This release is based on the compendium A portrait of seniors in Canada, released today. The report uses a wide range of data sources to provide a statistical portrait of the well-being and wellness of people aged 65 and over.

Tools to help organizations create, share and use research
This free online database of resources for health services organizations that wish to use research better is managed by the CHSRF. Each resource is gathered and assessed by the CHSRF to help organizations find, assess, interpret and apply research evidence to inform health system policy and management decisions. The resources are classified per various phases—acquire, assess, adapt, and apply—to ensure relevant tools are easily available for the user.

Urban thinkers
Sustainable transportation solutions for the trip to and from school.

March 16, 2007

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc
Resource Coordinator
Alberta Centre for Active Living


Exercise helps in the battle against breast cancer
The Vancouver Province (Mon 12 Mar 2007, Byline: Jill Barker) reports that new studies on the role of exercise in dealing with breast cancer show that women who exercise experience less nausea, anxiety, depression and fatigue than those who don't. They also have better immune function, are less likely to gain weight after diagnosis and are more able to perform regular daily activities. And studies are now showing regular exercise reduces the risk of cancer reoccurrence by as much as 40 per cent. However, fewer than 10% undergoing treatment do exercise, and on average, their activity is reduced by about 2 hours a week after diagnosis.

River valley park extension proposed for Edmonton
CBC News (Mon 19 Mar 2007) reports that councillors from seven municipalities in the Edmonton area have formed the River Valley Alliance with the aim of promoting development of the Capital Region River Valley Park an 88 mile long park along the North Fort Saskatchewan River from Devon through Edmonton to Fort Saskatchewan. Costs are estimated at $605 million—about half for land purchases and additional trails. The seven municipalities are willing to assist with funding.


Eat better & move more: A community-based program designed to improve diets and increase physical activity among older Americans
Assessed outcomes of an integrated nutrition and exercise program designed for Older Americans’ Act Nutrition Program participants as part of the administration on Aging’s You Can! campaign.

A 10-site intervention study was conducted. Re-intervention and post intervention assessments focused on nutrition and physical activity stages of change, self-reported health status, dietary intakes, physical activity, and program satisfaction.

Results: Of 999 enrollees, the 620 who completed the program were aged 74.6 years on average; 82% were women, and 41% were members of racial/ethnic minority groups. Factors associated with program completion were site, health conditions, and nutrition risk. Seventy-three per cent and 75 per cent of participants, respectively, made a significant advance of one or more nutrition and physical activity stages of change; 24 per cent reported improved health status. Daily intake of fruit increased 1 or more servings among 31 per cent of participants; vegetables, 37 per cent; and fibre, 33 per cent. Daily steps increased 35 per cent; blocks walked, 45 per cent; and stairs climbed, 24 per cent. Program satisfaction was 99 per cent.

Conclusions: This easy-to-implement program improves diets and activity levels. Local providers should offer more such programs with the goal of enabling older Americans to take simple steps toward successful aging. Am J Public Health. 2007


My turn, my time, my plan
The “My turn My time My plan” project of Hamilton Public Health offers women very realistic information about how they can take their turn in the family, so that they can prioritize themselves, their health, and physical activity.

National Society of Physical Activity Practitioners in Public Health
On April 17, 2006, a network of physical activity practitioners in state Departments of Health formed the National Society of Physical Activity Practitioners in Public Health. The mission of the Society is to elevate physical activity as a public health priority through engagement, education, and expansion of partnerships. The Society elected a Steering Committee (chair: Chris Kimber of MN) and accepted Operating Guidelines and Core Competencies at its first annual business meeting on April 17.

The Society was formed from a two-year planning process initiative by the PA Collaborative. The PA Collaborative is made up of representatives of four groups (Directors of Health Promotion and Education, Chronic Disease Directors, the Society, and the Physical Activity and Health Branch at CDC). Formation of the Society was one of a number of activities of the PA Collaborative.

One Less Car program
Why One Less Car? People on bikes, people walking—interacting—hese are indicators that a city, town or community is healthy, vibrant and working. Through education, lobbying, and advising our government officials, we are lifting the barriers to realizing the power of these basic human modes of travel. The goal is to enable bicycling and walking to flourish as vital facets of our daily routine.

Preventing chronic diseases: A framework for country action
From 5 to 8 February 2007, a WHO Expert Consultation on “Preventing Chronic Diseases: A Framework for Country Action” was held in Geneva. The Expert Group strongly supported WHO's initiative to develop a practical tool to assist Member States in updating, strengthening, developing, implementing, and evaluating a national policy, plan and program for the prevention and control of chronic diseases. The Group also agreed on a work plan to further develop this Framework, with the aim of publishing it in October 2008.

March 9, 2007

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc
Resource Coordinator
Alberta Centre for Active Living


Canadian Parks and Recreation Association: Response to federal budget

Exercise can help replenish brain cells, researchers find
The National Post (Tue 13 Mar 2007 Source: Reuters) reports that U.S. researchers have determined that exercise boosts brainpower by building new brain cells in a brain region linked with memory and memory loss. Tests on mice showed they grew new brain cells in a brain region called the dentate gyrus, a part of the hippocampus that is known to be affected in the age-related memory decline that begins around age 30 for most humans. The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging scans to help document the process in mice—and then used MRIs to look at the brains of people before and after exercise. They found the same patterns, which suggests that people also grow new brain cells when they exercise.


Creating a robust public health infrastructure for physical activity promotion
Yancey, A.K., Fielding, J.E., Flores, G.R., Sallis, J.F., McCarthy, W.J. & Breslow, L. (2007). American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 32(1), 68-78.

The essential role of physical activity both as an independent protective factor against numerous common chronic diseases and as a means to maintain a healthy weight is gaining increasing scientific recognition.

Although the science of physical activity promotion is advancing rapidly, the practice of promoting physical activity at a population level is in its infancy. The virtual absence of a public health practice infrastructure for the promotion of physical activity at the local level presents a critical challenge to control policy for chronic disease, particularly obesity. To translate the increasing evidence of the value of physical activity into practice will require systemic, multilevel and multisectoral intervention approaches that build individual capability and organizational capacity for behaviour change, create new social norms, and promote policy and environmental changes that support higher levels of energy expenditure across the population.

This paper highlights societal changes contributing to inactivity; describes the evolution and current status of population-based public health physical activity promotion efforts in research and practice settings; suggests strategies for engaging decision makers, stakeholders, and the general public in building the necessary infrastructure to effectively promote physical activity; and identifies specific recommendations to spur the creation of a robust public health infrastructure for physical activity.


Establishing a women’s swimming program

Information Sheet designed to provide community agencies and workers in the human services sector with a simple step-by-step guide to establishing a women’s swimming program. In establishing this program, two key factors need to be addressed: program sustainability and cultural appropriateness. Good planning and consultation in the initial stages of the program will ensure these areas are addressed appropriately.

Four hypotheses about the public policy significance of youth recreation: Lessons from a literature review and a data analysis on “Learning through recreation”
This summary report combines the key findings of these two studies as they related to four hypotheses about the public policy significance of youth recreation advanced by the Laidlaw Foundation. The data analysis and literature review are available as separate background documents that support and expand upon this summary report.

House of Commons Standing Committee on Health's new report on childhood obesity

OTTAWA, March 27 /CNW Telbec: The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC) applauds the recommendations in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health's new report on childhood obesity, Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids, and urges the federal government to act on the report now.

MPs call for “aggressive” action on child obesity:

Today's youth expected to die younger than parents (Commons committee).

March 2, 2007

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc, Resource Coordinator
Alberta Centre for Active Living


15-minute spurts of activity can keep kids from becoming obese
Reuters (March 20, 2007) reports that according to British and U.S. researchers, just 15 minutes a day of kicking around a ball or swimming might be enough to keep children from becoming obese. A study of 5,500 children who agreed to wear a motion sensor device showed that those who exercised more were less likely to be obese and that short bursts of intense activity seemed to be the most helpful.

Children who did 15 minutes a day of moderate exercise (equivalent to a brisk walk) were 50 per cent less likely than inactive children to be obese, the researchers reported in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine. The team studied 5,500 children, with an average age of 12, who with their mothers have been taking part in a larger, long-term study of health. The children agreed to wear a device called an accelerometer, which measures total activity, and they had X-ray scans for body fat. The researchers rated the children with the top 10 per cent levels of fat mass as obese.

A bit of exercise seems to curb smoking desire
The Welland Tribune (ON) (Sat 17 Mar 2007 Source: AP) reports that a dozen studies have found as little as five minutes of exercise seems to help smokers curb their craving for a cigarette. The research showed that moderate exercise, such as walking, significantly reduced the intensity of smokers' nicotine withdrawal symptoms. According to their analysis, just five minutes of exercise was often enough to help smokers overcome their immediate need for a nicotine fix.


According to recent data released by the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institutes (CFLRI), the issue of child and youth physical inactivity in Canada is perhaps an even larger public health concern than previously believed…The CFLRI Canadian Physical Activity Levels Among Youth (CANPLAY) study collected pedometer data on a sample of approximately 6,000 children and youth ages to 19, measuring the number of steps kids take in order to assess their activity levels…


ACHSC (Alberta coalition for healthy school communities)
This website is a tool for increasing knowledge exchange about school health promotion and enhancing network development. It includes information about the ACHSC and provides links to key organizations and publications. ACHSC aims to ensure that linked websites are useful and credible and intends to keep the website current with what's happening in school health in Alberta, across the country, and around the world.

Active living security in the Calgary health region: Focus on vulnerable population groups including low-income and/or immigrant families
This report investigates the active living/physical activity situation for low socioeconomic families, including those who are culturally diverse in the Calgary Health Region, in order to more effectively target health promotion and disease prevention delivery to this population.

BodySense is an education and outreach initiative dedicated to the promotion of positive body image in athletes. BodySense believes that an affirmative sport environment can facilitate in the development of positive character traits: perseverance, responsibility, a strong sense of self and body, and integrity as well as values like fairness, fitness, friendship, and fun. BodySense is a practical, innovative, accessible, and relevant information site dedicated to helping you and the members of your sport community continue to foster positive body image in athletes and active people!

Communities for health: Learning from the pilots


This report by the U.K. Department of Health tells the story of the Communities for Health pilots and how organizations in 22 areas worked with local communities to harness people’s inspiration, commitment and energy to improve health and reduce health inequalities. Physical Activity is a part of a number of the Pilot Programs*