May 14, 2010

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc

Alberta Centre for Active Living

Note: where possible we provide the DOI to link to research papers in the Info Round up. To use it, cut and paste the DOI into the text box on this webpage:

Google Maps Adding Bike Directions
Google Maps is starting to provide biking directions. Google Maps users looking for directions between two points will have the option of selecting "bicycling" in addition to walking, driving, and public transportation options when customizing their trip guidance.

Health economic assessment tool for cycling (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? The CDC is currently working on a North American version.

"Health in All Policies" in Practice: Guidance and Tools to Quantifying the Health Effects of Cycling and Walking
This project is providing guidance and an illustrative tool for cycling for practical application. Results show that substantial savings can be expected. Such tools illustrate the importance of considering health in transport policy and infrastructure planning….

Calgary geocache challenge
Calgary’s parks are now filled with hidden treasure and the city is hoping residents will come play hide-and-seek. As part of the City of Calgary Parks 100th anniversary celebration, a citywide geocache challenge is underway....

The importance of being parsimonious: Reliability of a brief community walkability assessment instrument
Health & Place Volume 16, Issue 4, July 2010, Pages 755-758

This research presents the Leyden Walkability Instrument (LWI), a brief survey checklist designed to measure the perceived walkability of a neighborhood or community where a respondent lives.

When Ontario bikes, Ontario Benefits: A Green Paper for an Ontario Bicycling Policy Share the Road Cycling Coalition March 2010
With the advent of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and the application of this tax to bicycles and bike parts the Ontario government will realize an additional $20 million annually. This amount represents the provincial component of the tax according to data from the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada (BTAC).

We recommend that the government of Ontario redirect this $20 million in revenue to an
Ontario Bicycling Investment Fund (OBIF). The OBIF would create a means by which the Ontario government could begin to address the active transportation/cycling deficit which currently exists in our province.

Annual Evidence Update on Childhood Obesity - Available now
The National Library for Public Health has published the third Annual Evidence Update on Childhood Obesity: surveillance and prevention. In the last year, a number of related strategies and reports have been published along with 28 systematic and literature reviews, providing a snapshot of the preventative interventions for childhood obesity and international surveillance activities.

Community Use of School Facilities Policy
In this policy schools are encouraged to make their facilities available for use by their community outside of school hours for appropriate purposes, provided this does not interfere with the school’s provision of quality learning programs for its students.

Games Smart
A new resource from Queensland designed to assist primary school teachers to promote physical activity.

Low Aerobic Fitness and Obesity Are Associated with Lower Standardized Test Scores in Children
The Journal of Pediatrics Volume 156, Issue 5, Pages 711-718.e1 (May 2010)

New evidence a boost for advocacy for physical education

Physical educators are deeply concerned that without supportive policy in place physical education is often the first subject to be moved aside to accommodate the newest priority.

However, reductions in school physical education can put the health and well-being of young people under threat, this new research adds weight to the argument that reduced fitness and increased obesity can harm academic performance.

Opening School Grounds to the Community after Hours. A toolkit for increasing physical activity through joint use agreements.
This USA toolkit helps communities and school districts work together to develop joint use agreements increasing access to recreational facilities on school grounds.

Positive psychology, walking and well-being: Can walking school buses survive a policy of school closure?
World Transport Policy & Practice Volume 15. Number 4. March 2010

In summary, children are telling us that they prefer active modes of transportation. Experiences of happiness appear to coincide with these travel choices. We know that walking, cycling and happiness have the capacity to contribute to childrens health and to healthy communities. Policies and practices that support walking and cycling for children, youth and adults enable us to foster a legacy of sustainable happiness. These policies should include those that assess more holistically the benefits of keeping local schools open.

Promoting Healthy Communities and Preventing Childhood Obesity - Trends in Recent Legislation
This report documents the increasing interest in adopting policies designed to promote healthy communities and prevent childhood obesity….. it summarizes state legislation enacted in two broad policy categories—healthy eating and physical activity, and healthy community design and access to healthy food—divided into 16 topic areas. The report provides an overview of healthy eating and physical activity legislation enacted in 21 States and captures healthy community design and access to healthy food laws in 30 states.

Saving Money and Time with Active School Travel
A report from Ontario.

Spatial clustering and the temporal mobility of walking school trips in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada
Health & Place Volume 16, Issue 4, July 2010, Pages 646-655
Findings demonstrate that walking tends to cluster within the urban and inner-suburban GTA, and in areas with low household income……. The evidence suggests that interventions to increase active school transportation need to acknowledge spatial and temporal differences in walking behavior.

Social Determinants of male health
Physical activity is mentioned in the healthy routines section. A website for the Australian National Men's Health Policy.

Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and ParticipACTION share new
research to inform Canadians of physical activity levels required
Research shows even small increases in activity can bring benefits

Fact Sheet – New Physical Activity Recommendations

Articles supporting CSEP data
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2010, 7:38 to 7:43 (11 May 2010)
The articles supporting the Cdn Physical Activity Guidelines news can be found in the open access journal - International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (IJBNPA)

Eurobarometer Survey on Sport and Physical Activity highlights large disparities among Member States
A special Eurobarometer Survey on Sport and Physical Activity was carried out in late 2009. The results show that while a majority of European citizens play sport or do some other form of physical exercise at least once a week, a worrying 25% of respondents say that they are almost completely inactive. Men play more sport and also exercise more than women. Health-related concerns are the most common reason for exercising.

Keep Active Minnesota
The purpose of this study is to determine whether a new phone and mail based coaching/support program that has been developed is more effective in helping people stay physically active than existing programs that are currently available to all HealthPartners members.

A healthy city is an active city: a physical activity planning guide
With this guide, city leaders can create a plan for physical activity, active living and sport in their city or community. It describes how the approach relates to the Healthy Cities movement, why people need active living opportunities and who to involve; how to create, implement and evaluate the plan; and what tools, good examples and other sources to use.

Characteristics of urban parks associated with park use and physical activity: A review of qualitative research
Health & Place Volume 16, Issue 4, July 2010, Pages 712-726

Our synthesis of qualitative research suggests that perceptions of the social environment entwine inextricably with perceptions of the physical environment. If so, physical attributes of parks as well as perceptions of these attributes …may influence physical activity patterns

The Economic Benefits of Open Space, Recreation Facilities and Walkable Community Design
This research synthesis reviews the sizable body of peer-reviewed and independent reports on the economic value of outdoor recreation facilities, open spaces and walkable community design. It focuses on “private” benefits that accrue to nearby homeowners and to other users of open space.

Perceived characteristics of the neighborhood and its association with physical activity behavior and self-rated health
Health & Place Volume 16, Issue 4, July 2010, Pages 736-743
A high level of satisfaction with the individual’s local infrastructure may support the residents to engage in higher levels of physical activity for transportation, whereas the preferred mode of transportation may be gender-specific: men tend to use the bicycle while women walk. Our results suggest that local infrastructure facilities should be designed so as to ensure accessibility by both walking and cycling.

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