April 16, 2010

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc

Alberta Centre for Active Living

Economic Value of Walkability
This paper describes ways to evaluate the value of walking (the activity) and walkability (the quality of walking conditions, including safety, comfort and convenience).

How to Ease Women’s Fear of Transportation Environments: Case Studies and Best Practices
The relationship between women’s fear and the built environment has been the subject of research with clear findings that women feel unsafe in many public spaces. These often include transportation environments. Desolate bus stops and train cars, dimly lit park-and-ride lots and parking structures, but also overcrowded transit vehicles represent stressful settings for many women, who often feel compelled to change their transportation modes and travel patterns in order to avoid them.

Helping Johnny Walk to School Policy Recommendations for Removing Barriers to Community-Centered Schools
Nearly all decisions about the use and location of school facilities are made by local school districts— but the impact of these decisions goes far beyond the school and the education of its students. This report identifies the larger community interest in decisions
about retaining existing schools and deciding where to locate new ones.

Nature, Childhood, Health and Life Pathways
There is growing evidence to show that children’s contact with nature and consequent levels of physical activity affects not only their well-being but also their health in later life. Find out how physical activity participation and experiencing nature can improve health and well-being.

Why Johnny Can’t Walk to School: Historic Neighborhood Schools in the Age of Sprawl

Quieter Cars and the Safety Of Blind Pedestrians: Phase I
Quieter cars such as electric vehicles (EVs) and hybridelectric vehicles (HEVs) can reduce pedestrians’ ability to assess the state of nearby traffic and, as a result, may have an adverse impact on pedestrian safety.

Knowing What Works. Doing What Works: An Introduction to the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools
Decisions are made every day that affect the health of our target populations – decisions about practices, policies and programs. While they are all made with good intentions, only some of those decisions will achieve their objectives. The National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (NCCMT) can help you use evidence to make more effective decisions regarding the work you do in public health.

Exercise and health-related quality of life in older community-dwelling adults: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
In older community-dwelling adults, physical activity appeared to improve self-reported physical function, a component of health-related quality of life, but this needed confirmation in further trials. Given the poor quality of the trials and the lack of data for some analyses, the authors' conclusions may not be reliable and their recommendation for further well-designed trials appears to be warranted.

Long-term effectiveness of diet-plus-exercise interventions vs. diet-only interventions for weight loss: a meta-analysis
This review concluded that combined exercise and diet interventions were better than diet-only interventions for long-term weight loss in adults. The results appear to support the authors' conclusions, but reliability of the data is unclear.

Treating adult obesity through lifestyle change interventions A briefing paper for commissioners
This briefing paper aims to support commissioners by providing a brief guide to current best available evidence on the effective treatment of obesity through lifestyle change interventions for adults who are overweight or obese. The paper is concerned with services available for the treatment of obesity among adults (aged 18+) with a focus on diet, physical activity, or both in combination. It covers a range of approaches including interventions conducted with individuals on a one-to-one basis or in groups, and in clinical or community settings

Launch of the first National Physical Activity Plan – May 3rd
The U.S. National Physical Activity Plan is a private-public sector collaborative, engaging hundreds of organizations dedicated to changing our communities in ways that will enable every American to be sufficiently physically active

March 2010 Journal of Physical Activity and Health
Journal of Physical Activity and Health Vol 7, Suppl 1 (March 2010)

This supplement focuses on physical activity policy. The papers are about the USA, except for one from Europe, but very relevant to Canada.

Meta-analysis of quality-of-life outcomes from physical activity interventions
This review found that interventions designed to increase physical activity led to improvements in quality of life, although there was considerable heterogeneity in the magnitude of the effect. These conclusions are likely to be reliable, but should be interpreted with some caution due to the failure to adequately assess study quality.

Pedometer measured physical activity and health behaviours in United States adults
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: post acceptance, 16 March 2010
Bassett, David R. Jr.; Wyatt, Holly R.; Thompson, Helen; Peters, John C.; Hill, James O.

The results show that the average American adult only took around 5000 steps per day, with males taking about 400 steps more per day than females. There was an age related decline, with those over 50 taking substantially fewer steps than younger age groups. There are also relationships with educational status, and some geographic variation. Those who were obese took around 1500 steps per day less than those who were not overweight or obese.

Physical Activity and Weight Gain Prevention
Journal of the American Medical Association, 2010, 303: 1173-1179

This study provides strong confirmation of the importance of 60 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity for successful weight maintenance in adults, from a well-designed longitudinal study of over 34,000 middle-aged women in the US.

Good Parks Are Good for the Economy
This paper describes how creating and maintaining parks stimulates the economy and how parks boosts the economy via increasing property values, attracts tourists and residents to events and activities, can save residents money and provide quantifiable environmental benefits
Measuring the Economic Value of a City Park System
In 2003, The Trust for Public Land’s (TPL) Center for City Park Excellence gathered two dozen park experts and economists in Philadelphia for a colloquium to analyze how park systems economically benefit cities. Based on this conversation and subsequent consultation with other leading economists and academics, the center identified seven attributes of city park systems that provide economic value and are measurable.

Partners for public health: Working with local, state, and federal agencies to create healthier communities (USA)
The way our neighborhoods are designed has a profound impact on our health and wellbeing. A physical environment that promotes health – with affordable quality housing, access to healthy foods and physical activity, clean air, parks and recreation facilities, transportation options, and safe schools – is integral to achieving health equity and ensuring a high quality of life.

Flexible working conditions and their effects on employee health and wellbeing
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD008009.

Overall, these findings seem to indicate that flexibility in working patterns which gives the worker more choice or control is likely to have positive effects on health and wellbeing.

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