April 23, 2009

By Rosanne Prinsen MSc

Alberta Centre for Active Living

Adult Active Transportation: Adding Habit Strength to the Theory of Planned Behavior
American Journal of Preventive Medicine Vol 36, Issue 3, Pages 189-194 (March 2009)
They conclude: Habit strength is a moderator of the intention–behavior relationship regarding bicycle use, with intention becoming less relevant when bicycle use increases in habit strength. Future determinant and intervention studies on physical activity may benefit from including a measure of habit strength—for instance, by identifying the differential effects of informational and environmental interventions.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Pathfinder
Over the past few decades, the topics of pedestrian safety and bicycle transportation have moved increasingly to the forefront. This guide provides a list of bicycle and pedestrian transportation resources. (A great listing of papers, resources. Clicking on a resource will take you to their library catalogue BUT it also provides a link to the actual document in most cases).

Cycling reduces absenteeism at the workplace
In February 2009, TNO, a Dutch contract research organization, published research directly studying the relation between commuting by bicycle, work performance and absenteeism. FINDINGS: Employees regularly cycling to work are ill less often. A 1% increase in regular commuting by bicycle would translate into savings of approximately 27 million Euro (£24M) per annum for employers, as calculated by TNO.

Health Economic Appraisal Tool (HEAT) for cycling
This tool estimates the economic savings resulting from reduced mortality due to cycling i.e.: if x people cycle y distance on most days, what is the economic value of the improvements in their mortality rate?

Ireland's first National Cycle Policy Framework
This document sets out the National Cycle Policy Framework, 2009-2020.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center: Case Study Compendium
A large 258 page document. The case studies, or success stories, cover pedestrian and bicycle projects and programs from across the US and abroad, including engineering, education, enforcement, encouragement, planning, health promotion, and comprehensive safety initiatives. They are intended to provide ideas and spur thinking about potential activities communities can undertake to further support bicycling and walking.

Reclaiming city streets for people Chaos or quality of life?
This new handbook sets out some case studies where road space has been reallocated for other uses. New, attractive and popular public areas can be created on sites that were once blocked by regular traffic jams. If these are properly planned, they need not result in road traffic chaos, contrary to what might be expected.

Valuing the Benefits of Cycling: A Report to Cycling England

Why Bicyclists Hate Stop Signs
In this essay University of California physics professor Joel Fajans and Access transportation journal editor Melanie Curry to write that requiring cyclists to follow the same complete-stop rules as motorists defies science.

Treatment of Childhood Overweight and Obesity
2009 Ontario Medical Association Background Paper and Policy Recommendations.

Walking and Cycling to School: Predictors of Increases Among Children and Adolescents
American Journal of Preventive Medicine Vol 36, Issue 3, Pages 195-200 (March 2009)
They conclude: Social factors and physical environmental characteristics were the most important predictors of active commuting in children and adolescents, respectively.

Centre for Health Communication and Participation
Established within the Australian Institute for Primary Care at La Trobe University in April 2009, the Centre's mission is to improve communication with and participation by consumers and carers, through evidence-informed policy and decision making. (Typing Physical Activity into the search engine yields 989 hits.)

Five Ways to Well-Being
The New Economics Foundation (NEF) centre for well-being has developed a set of five evidence-based actions that, if practiced regularly, can improve personal well-being. Physical Activity is one of the five J

NEF’s Well-Being Web-site
The centre for well-being at nef seeks to understand, measure and influence well-being. In particular we ask the question 'what would policy making and the economy look like if their main aim were to promote well-being?'

Center for Planning Excellence – Land Use Toolkit
Toolkit functions as a shared resource from which parishes and municipalities can adopt a complete development code or select cafeteria-style from individual tools that meet their specific needs. This website contains both the complete Toolkit, and a separate User Guide.

45 and Up Study
The 45 and Up Study is the largest study of healthy ageing ever undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere. Over 250,000 men and women aged 45 and over across NSW have been recruited – about 10% of this age group – and will have their health followed over the coming decades.

Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging: Training and Demonstration Projects
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that two universities are being recognized for improving the quality of life of older residents through community planning and strategies that support active aging and smart growth.

Estimating Older Adults' Preferences for Walking Programs via Conjoint Analysis
American Journal of Preventive Medicine Vol 36, Issue 3, Pages 201-207.e4 (March 2009)
The results suggest that the characteristics of walking programs, such as whether they involve participation in a formal group, substantially influence their perceived acceptability and the likelihood of participation. The results also suggest that, independent of other program attributes, modest financial incentives increase the likelihood of program participation by sedentary older adults, and thus are a potential means to increase the effectiveness of walking programs.

Retirement and Physical Activity: Analyses by Occupation and Wealth
American Journal of Preventive Medicine Vol 36, Issue 5, Pages 422-428 (May 2009)
Older adults close to retirement age show the lowest level of physical activity. Changes in lifestyle with retirement may alter physical activity levels. This study investigated whether retirement changes physical activity and how the effect differs by occupation type and wealth level.

Public transit, obesity, and medical costs: Assessing the magnitudes
Preventive Medicine 46 (2008) 14–21
While no silver bullet, walking associated with public transit can have a substantial impact on obesity, costs, and well-being. Further research is warranted on the net impact of transit usage on all behaviors, including caloric intake and other types of exercise, and on whether policies can promote transit usage at acceptable cost

2008 Alberta Recreation Survey
In the fall 2008, over 2,200 Alberta households responded to questions about their participation in recreational activities they took part in over the past 12 months. Walking for pleasure, gardening and attending fairs and festivals are the top three leisure or recreational activities…..

Measurement of the Food and Physical Activity Environments: Enhancing Research Relevant to Policy on Diet, Physical Activity, and Weight
This supplement is organized into four main sections:
* history of measurement of food and physical activity environments,
* the state of the science of measuring these environments,
* measurement of food and physical activity environments of populations at increased risk of obesity and related health conditions, and
* summaries of discussions and recommendations from four workshop breakout groups.

Physical Activity and Health Alliance
Welcome to the Physical Activity and Health Alliance online community website for practitioners engaged in physical activity and health across Scotland.

Premier's Council for Active Living (New S Wales)
To assist and support leaders in the public, private and community sectors to make decisions that will facilitate and encourage active living, PCAL has summarized in this Active Living Statement the key evidence demonstrating the benefits of active living and the individual and social costs of a sedentary lifestyle.

Quantifying the positive health effects of cycling and walking
This (WHO) project aimed at facilitating the harmonization of methodological approaches to provide guidance for practitioners, focusing in particular on approaches to the economic valuation of positive health effects related to cycling and walking.

Translating Physical Activity Recommendations into a Pedometer-Based Step Goal: 3000 Steps in 30 Minutes
American Journal of Preventive Medicine Vol 36, Issue 5, Pages 410-415 (May 2009)
Moderate-intensity walking appears approximately equal to at least 100 step·min–1. However, step counts per minute is a poor proxy for METs, and so 100 step·min–1 should be used only as a general physical activity promotion heuristic. To meet current guidelines, individuals are encouraged to walk a minimum of 3000 steps in 30 minutes on 5 days each week. Three bouts of 1000 steps in 10 minutes each day can also be used to meet the recommended goal.

Western Australia’s Physical Activity Plan 2007-08 / 2010-11
This discussion document sets the scene for a Strategic and Action Plan for Physical Activity. The aim of the plan is to give clear direction for the promotion of physical activity in Western Australia. This document is intended to stimulate discussion within sectors and among others with an interest in physical activity. It sets out the key issues and suggests some strategic directions in Western Australia.

Canadian Cochrane Network announces FREE access to the Cochrane Library for all Canadians
The Cochrane Library contains high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making. It includes reliable evidence from Cochrane and other systematic reviews, clinical trials, and more. Cochrane reviews bring you the combined results of the world’s best medical research studies, and are recognized as the gold standard in evidence-based health care.

Using financial incentives to achieve healthy behaviour
BMJ 2009; 338:b 1415
For those developing incentive schemes, the literature provides some guidance on effective components. Schemes targeting habitual behaviors such as smoking or physical inactivity may be more effective if they provide valued incentives for initial as well as sustained behavior change, delivered intermittently and as part of effective behavior change programs. For schemes aimed at initiating relatively simple behaviors in low income populations such as clinic attendance and participation in vaccination programs, small incentives delivered immediately seem most effective.


April 17, 2009

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc

Alberta Centre for Active Living

A Citizen's Guide to Better Streets: How to Engage Your Transportation Agency
Project for Public Spaces (PPS) and AARP have released of a series of transportation books aimed at helping citizens have an impact on transportation planning in their communities.

Ravenel Bridge encourages exercise
Charleston Moves and the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League have released a study showing that two-thirds of people who walk, run, or bike on the new Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge say they're exercising more since the opening of the very popular pedestrian path.

Transit and Health: Mode of Transport, Employer-Sponsored Public Transit Pass Programs, and Physical Activity
Journal of Public Health Policy (2009) 30, S73–S94
We found a positive association between public transit trips and meeting the physical activity recommendation by using walking for transportation. For car trips (as a driver), this relationship was negative. Having and using an employer-sponsored transit pass was also associated with meeting the physical activity recommendation when compared with both non-walkers and moderate walkers. (As mentioned previously, access to this supplement is free – be sure to check out the table of contents!).

Promoting Children's Health Through Physically Active Math Classes: A Pilot Study
Health Promotion Practice 2009, online first 25 March 2009.
The purpose of this pilot study is to examine the effects of integrating PA with mathematics content on math class and school day PA levels of elementary students.

Healthy Societies: Addressing 21st Century Health Challenges
Physical Activity and Well-Being are mentioned many times. “…. strongly commend this report to all South Australians, to those who make and implement health and social policy in the State, and to all those committed to living a healthy life and to creating a healthy society for the future.”

National Accounts of Well-being: bringing real wealth onto the balance sheet
This document presents a radical, robust proposal to guide the direction of modern societies and the lives of people who live in them. It demonstrates why national governments should directly measure people’s subjective well-being: their experiences, feelings and perceptions of how their lives are going. It calls for these measures to be collected on a regular, systematic basis and published as National Accounts of Well-being. The measures are needed because the economic indicators which governments currently rely on tell us little about the relative success or failure of countries in supporting a good life for their citizens.

Rapid Evidence Assessment Toolkit sitemap
Reviewing evidence properly takes time, but there are various techniques that can be used. This toolkit will help researchers to identify whether a Rapid Evidence Assessment is best for their needs, and help with the process of planning and carrying out a review.

UBC Centre for Health Services and Policy Research
The Centre stimulates scientific enquiry into population health and into ways in which health services can best be organized, funded and delivered. Our researchers and staff carry out a diverse program of research and development designed to deliver data, tools and analysis useful in understanding and renewing health care, and in improving the health of Canadians.

Recommendations on physical activity for health for older Australians
Physical activity is important for health and wellbeing. This page outlines the five physical activity recommendations for older Australians.

Imitative Obesity and Relative Utility
Using Eurobarometer data on 29 countries, this paper provides cross-sectional evidence that overweight perceptions and dieting are influenced by a person’s relative BMI, and longitudinal evidence from the German Socioeconomic Panel that well-being is influenced by relative BMI. Highly educated people see themselves as fatter − at any given actual weight − than those with low education. These results should be treated cautiously, and fixed-effects estimates are not always well-determined, but there are grounds to take seriously the possibility of socially contagious obesity.

Socioeconomic effects on meeting physical activity guidelines: Comparisons among 32 countries
Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, April 2009, 41:4
Levels of MVPA during adolescence showed consistent patterns across countries in relation to age, gender, and social class. The limited effect of age on PA in countries where the influence of social class was less strong suggests the possibility of a moderating effect of context in the development of habits acquired during childhood.

Work Health
WorkSafe Victoria has launched this new state-wide workplace health program.


April 9, 2009

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc

Alberta Centre for Active Living

Healthy and Active Transport Program: HEAT Policy Proposal
The authors propose the creation of a national active transport infrastructure program to assist local government create liveable communities that are resilient to the emerging issues of climate change, high fuel prices, traffic congestion and the need for active, healthy living.
The program would fund significant, high-quality cycling and walking infrastructure projects, to develop and improve accessible alternative transport options for local short trips, demanded by, but out of reach of local government due to funding constraints.

Healthy Transport
The Healthy Transport website ('THE PEP-toolbox') was developed to help policymakers and local professionals solve transport problems that affect health and the environment. In addition to tools and promising practices, it contains policy briefs on selected topics and provides access to information from relevant sources. It provides guidance on transport-related health impacts and sustainable solutions with a focus on issues such as road-traffic injuries, air pollution, noise, climate change and physical activity.

PARK(ing) Day
Friday 19 September 2009. PARK(ing) Day is a one-day, global event centered in San Francisco where artists, activists, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks.

The Links between Public Health and Sustainable and Active Transportation
This issue paper “reviews the major health risks associated with physical inactivity and exposure to air pollutants from motorized transportation vehicles, as well as the many benefits that can be derived when people choose to use active and sustainable transportation.”

The Social Implications of Sustainable and Active Transportation
This case study “examines how transportation affects social issues such as accessibility, community livability, and employment.”


Child Friendly Asia Pacific
“The guiding principle behind the initiative is also that safe and supportive environments nurture children of all ages with opportunities for recreation, learning, social interaction, psychological development and cultural expression and promote the highest quality of life for its young citizens.” (Place your cursor on an image block to see navigation options .)

Designs for a child-friendly city
“…In short, children who now have less time available for free play, because they are engaged in structured adult-organised activities or restricted by protective parenting, are being disadvantaged and are ironically more at risk of harm….”

High School Sports Participation and Educational Attainment: Recognizing, Assessing, and Utilizing the Relationship
This report provides a brief summary overview of scholarly research, knowledge, and understanding of the relationship between interscholastic high school sports participation and educational achievement in the United States.

Look After Your Heart Puzzle Sheet
An activity sheet for children about heart health. A neat idea from the British Heart Foundation

Many Steps – One Tomorrow
A report on the first three years of the National Safe Routes to School Program; by the National Center for Safe Routes to School.

Places to go? A summary of research evidence
As part of the Places to Go project, this report aims to provide an evidence base which will help ‘change policy and practice so that children and young people are able to enjoy their local streets and neighborhoods and have better access to travel and transport.

Building Inclusive Communities: Promoting Awareness of Culture and Diversity
This booklet shows organizations how to ensure that they include everyone. The tips tool provides information about disability-related access and cultural accommodations to assist in developing programs, strategies, outreach initiatives and the delivery of events that are welcoming and inclusive of ethnoracial people with disabilities.

Alberta Healthy Living Network (AHLN)
AHLN has launched a new, redesigned website.

Beyond Health Care: New Directions to a Healthier America
The RWJ Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America believes that there is more to good health than health care. According to the Commission, how long and how well Americans live depend more on where we live, learn, work and play than on medical care, which accounts for only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of preventable early deaths.

New Urban Health Blogspot
Urban Health Today: A Current-Awareness Tool: Grey Literature surrounding the health of people in cities worldwide. A new blog from the NY Academy of Medicine.

SEARCH Canada (Swift, Efficient Application of Research in Community Health)
SEARCH works in collaboration with the Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge, as well as the colleges in Red Deer, Medicine Hat, and Grande Prairie. Their mission is to help health organizations make the best decisions through the development of people, relationships and information.

Online Health Program Planner
Evidence-based planning with ease. Interactive, flexible, intuitive.

Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging
A resource for the general public (older adults specifically). You can either open each chapter on the web itself (by clicking on the links on the left hand side), or you can download the entire document as a .pfd (by clicking on the link on the right hand side).

New Healthy Aging Blogspot
Healthy Aging in Cities: A Current Awareness Report: An updating service on recent information about Aging. A new blog from the NY Academy of Medicine that features grey literature.

A meta-analysis of pedometer-based walking interventions and weight loss
The authors concluded that pedometer-based walking programs without a dietary intervention resulted in a modest weight loss. Longer program resulted in greater weight loss than shorter program.

Approaches to increase physical activity: reviewing the evidence for exercise-referral schemes
Exercise-referral schemes appeared to increase physical activity levels in certain populations, but this increase may not persist over time.

Economic evaluation of weight loss interventions in overweight and obese women
The authors concluded that a multidisciplinary weight loss program consisting of diet, exercise and behavior modification for overweight and obese women may be cost-effective.

April 2, 2009

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc

Alberta Centre for Active Living

Promotion of safe walking and cycling in urban areas
This WHO project focuses on exchange and dissemination of good practices and on improving the assessment of health effects from cycling and walking, as well as the costs and benefits of promoting non-motorized transport.

Transport and physical activity
From the WHO. Lots of information here, be sure to take the time to look at all of the sub-topics and resources.

Action for Healthy Kids
A national nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the epidemic of overweight, undernourished and sedentary youth by focusing on changes in schools. We work in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to improve children's nutrition and increase physical activity, which will in turn improve their readiness to learn.

CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health)
An evidence-based Coordinated School Health Program designed to promote physical activity and healthy food choices, and prevent tobacco use in elementary school-aged children. By teaching children that eating healthy and being physically active every day can be FUN, the CATCH Program has proven that establishing healthy habits in childhood can promote behaviour changes that can last a lifetime.

Children's Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe (CEHAPE)
This action plan addresses the environmental risk factors that most affect the health of European children. It was developed at the request of Member States and adopted by European Ministers at the Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health (2004) on "The future for our children".

Effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity in children and adolescents: systematic review of controlled trials
Author's conclusions: Multi-component interventions combining school with family or community involvement appear to be effective in adolescents. Conclusions regarding the efficacy of interventions in children were limited by study quality.

Game On! The Ultimate Wellness Challenge
An on-line toolkit. Game On is a year-long program that challenges America’s youth, their families and schools to incorporate healthy food choices and physical activity into their daily lives. A series of four theme-based challenges spaced throughout the school year promotes, engages and recognize students for their efforts to make better food choices and move more.

It’s the Daily Things That Count
This website offers information, resources, and links to help you raise healthy children. Daily habits such as eating healthy, being physically active, and having positive self esteem make all the difference when it comes to having a healthy weight. (The homepage has a number of great PSA posters).

OPHEA DPA Resource Database
Ophea is providing this website as an information source to boards and school authorities to assist them in selecting programs for their schools. Programs are listed in alphabetical order and include contact names and other information. Readers should contact the program provider directly.

Play England
Play England provides advice and support to promote good practice, and works to ensure that the importance of play is recognized by policy makers, planners and the public. (Be sure to check out the resource section, many good documents there!)

Play Strategy – UK Department for Children, Schools and Families
Click on the Play Strategy link under “related links”. The first national Play Strategy sets out the Government’s plans to improve and develop play facilities for children throughout the country. Based on consultation with thousands of children and young people, as well as their parents, the strategy outlines the short-, medium- and long-term objectives in bringing to life children’s right to play.

Progress or Promises? What’s Working For and Against Healthy Schools
An Action for Healthy Kids Report Fall 2008. In preparing this report, Action
for Healthy Kids assessed on-the ground achievements large and small; examined initiatives in place and changes effected; and carefully evaluated the tasks remaining.

Taking Steps toward a Healthy School - Step One: Make Community Partners Part of Your Team
Part one of a three part series from OPHEA.

Taking Steps Toward a 'Healthy School’ - Part Two: Reach out to Sport and Recreation Organizations
Part two of a three part series from OPHEA.

Taking Steps Toward a Healthy School – Part 3: Make Public Health Your Partner
Part three of a three part series from OPHEA.

An evaluation of cost sharing to finance a diet and physical activity intervention to prevent diabetes
The intervention was for the prevention of type 2 diabetes in people with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). The primary intervention comprised a combination of diet and moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. The program included a one-on-one, 16-lesson core curriculum, followed by monthly maintenance visits that included both group sessions and one-on-one visits with case managers. Placebo participants received standard lifestyle recommendations through an annual 30-minute education session.

Local Venues for Change: Legal Strategies for Healthy Environments
The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics Volume 35 Issue 1, Pages 138 - 147
This article illustrates that local laws and policies can be a valuable tool in changing a community's environment in order to improve nutritional options and increase opportunities for physical activity.

The Role of Community Programmes and Mass Events in Promoting Physical Activity to Patients
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2009;43: 44-46
“This review discusses three potential contributors: clinician advocacy for and engagement in physical activity as role models, referral to mass community participation events, and encouraging attendance at health fairs. These will not solve the inactivity crisis, but could add new approaches for clinicians, in advising their patients to initiate and try to become more physically active.”

Retirement and Physical Activity Analyses by Occupation and Wealth
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2009, article in press
The findings highlight how physical activity decreases at retirement in people of lower wealth and SES levels. This indicates a vulnerable section of the community who are at greater risk of both physical and mental health problems arising from inactivity.

Designing Sport and Physical Activity projects: Overview & Case studies
Planning and implementing sport and physical activity projects with the aim of increasing participation in neighbourhood renewal areas involves: undertaking an assessment of sporting and physical activities; developing long-lasting partnerships; developing a local infrastructure of volunteers, clubs and networks; accessing increased and longer-term funding; and demonstrating the success of sports projects through good organization, planning, marketing, monitoring and review

Exercise is Medicine
This program is managed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The vision of the program is for physical activity to be considered by all healthcare providers as a vital sign in every patient visit, and that patients are effectively counseled and referred as to their physical activity and health needs, thus leading to overall improvement in the public's health and long-term reduction in healthcare cost.

PARC Physical Activity Symposium 2009 proceedings
Proceedings from the March 4th & 5th symposium can be found here. Information from concurrent session workshops on a variety of topics including: Youth Engagement, Building Healthy Communities, Policy Change, Working with Schools and many more.

Sport, Physical Activity and Renewal: Case studies
Encouraging people to participate in sport and physical activity regularly and to lead more active lives takes time and resources. Sport and physical activity projects that seek to contribute to neighborhood renewal need to be clear and selective about the outcomes they are seeking to achieve.

American Journal of Preventive Medicine – Special Supplement
Volume 36, Issue 4, Supplement 1, Pages A1-A6, S81-S190 (April 2009)
The introduction notes: “Our hope is that the papers in this supplement will stimulate interest and development in measuring food and physical activity environments
(both in the research community as well as funding organizations); strengthen research on these environmental impacts on behavior; and inform policy to improve diet, physical activity, and health outcomes.”

Journal of Public Health Policy – Special Supplement
Volume 30, Issue S1 (2009)
The papers in this supplement were presented at the 2008 Active Living Research Conference whose theme was "Connecting Active Living Research to Policy Solutions." The papers include evaluations of policy initiatives and research that suggests promising new policies.

Listing of other current physical activity research
Click through to find out more about additional recently released physical activity research articles.

Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet: England, February 2009
For the first time, the report provides information on attitudes towards and knowledge about leading a healthy lifestyle for both adults and children. This includes information on how much physical activity should be done, barriers towards doing more physical activity, knowledge of the recommended daily number of portions of fruit and vegetables and attitudes towards a healthy diet.

Telephone interventions for physical activity and dietary behavior change: a systematic review
This review, which assessed the effectiveness of telephone counseling interventions in changing physical activity and dietary behaviors, concluded that telephone interventions are effective in improving such behaviors. Broadly, the authors' conclusions appear to follow the results of the review, although they may be oversimplified.

The role of exercise in preventing and treating gestational diabetes: a comprehensive review and recommendations for future research
The authors concluded that exercise may have positive and protective effects for the treatment and prevention of GDM (gestational diabetes mellitus). In view of poor reporting in the review, the small number of controlled studies, failure to assess or address heterogeneity between the studies and failure to systematically assess study quality, it is impossible to determine the reliability of the conclusions.