February 28, 2014

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc

Alberta Centre for Active Living

Note: Where possible, we provide the DOI link to research papers in the Info Round-Up.  To use it, cut and paste the DOI into the text box on this webpage:  Access to research articles will be dependent on your institutional rights.

This study from Active Living Research notes that while the economic performance of walkable shopping areas is worthy of continued empirical research… all the evidence seems to suggest that walkable retail is on the upswing. Since 45% of daily trips, on average, are made for shopping and running errands, encouraging walking is an important strategy in reducing obesity and improving health. It is also important to reducing energy usage and carbon emissions.

A research report the ITF Working Group on Cycling Safety. Among the recommendations for policy makers is the moderation of some urban road speeds to 30km/h or less, and the use of separated cycling infrastructure to increase the number of new cyclists, hence reaping the greatest health benefits through increased physical activity, including reducing risks linked to cardiovascular disease, obesity and Type-2 diabetes…….

Canadian artist Roadsworth believes street crossings should be more than asphalt safety keyboards. So for years he's traveled around his native Montreal, as well as the world, transforming these pedestrian passages into eye-grabbing spectacles: a school of colorful fish, a skein of yarn, a skeleton…..

In this policy platform, the Partnership for Active Transportation recommends increased investment in active transportation, with a focus on filling gaps in networks, leveraged by the private value created by the infrastructure, and further driven by performance metrics and integration of health impacts into transportation decisions. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see other key AT resources from the APHA.

PLOS One Published: January 14, 2014
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085295
We conclude that both residential density and the availability of walkable destinations are good measures of urban walkability and can be recommended for use by policy-makers, planners and public health officials. In our setting, the combination of both factors provided additional explanatory power.

Every day, high-density global cities are home to millions of pedestrians in their streets. Paradoxically though, many streets and transportation policies continue to place more space and importance on cars rather than people.

Researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto set out to determine what features of urban neighborhoods lead to more activity and thus better health outcomes. There are many more interesting blogs in the right hand column of this page.

The Atlantic declares the passing of “peak car” era. What do they mean? That some the best cities to live in, with the greatest public transportation and highest rates of college graduates are over car ownership! When population density in major cities increases and spaces get crowded, cars automatically become expensive nice-to-haves as opposed to have-to-haves. Solution? An excellent interconnected network of walkways, bike paths and public transit and say goodbye to personal cars!

This February 10th posting announced that in compliance with Illinois state law, the Chicago Board of Education has unanimously decided to make daily Physical Education classes mandatory for public schools.

Pediatrics Vol. 131  No. 2  Feb 1, 2013  pp. 290 -296
doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-2182
Implementation of the SRTS program in New York City has contributed to a marked reduction in pedestrian injury in school-aged children.

A comprehensive K-6 walking and biking curriculum that teaches safe traffic behavior through classroom activities and on-the-bike skills practice. The goals of the extensive lesson plans teach skills to children to walk and bicycle safely — building confidence and helping them stay safe, active, and healthy. (188pg .pdf document)

Am J Health Promotion: January/February 2014, Vol. 28, No. sp3, pp. S89-S96
State-funded SRTS projects are achieving one of the primary program goals of increasing rates of AST. They may be particularly effective at introducing bicycling to communities where it is rare. The evaluation framework introduced in this study can be used to continue tracking the effect of state SRTS programs as more projects are completed.

“Age-friendly-community strategies should target healthy middle-class seniors: Aging successfully depends not only on the behaviours of individual seniors, but also on the quality of the places where they live and receive care. A new IRPP paper says investing in community-based solutions can produce considerable benefits – but given limited funding and competing demands for resources, the age-friendly-communities movement must prioritize over-ambitious agendas and offer solutions that do not overlap with other programs.

Be sure to note there are four tabs with information on this page - Summary/News Release/IRPP insight/Notes

Neurobiology of Aging Available online 20 February 2014 In Press
This study used path analysis to examine effects of cognitive activity and physical activity on cognitive functioning in older adults…. lifestyle activity may promote cognitive health in aging by protecting against cerebrovascular pathology and  beta-amyloid  pathology thought to be relevant to Alzheimer’s disease  development.

Atherosclerosis Available online 20 February 2014 In Press
Within the SMART-MR study, 1.5T MRI of the brain and neuropsychological examinations were performed at baseline (n=1232) and after 3.9±0.4 years follow-up (n=663). Automatic brain segmentation was used to quantify intracranial (ICV), total brain, ventricular, and white matter lesion (WML) volumes. Brain infarcts were rated visually. Level of physical activity was expressed in metabolic equivalents (MET) hours p/week….. These data suggest that leisure time physical activity does not have a significant contribution in preventing or slowing down brain abnormalities and cognitive decline in this cohort of middle-aged individuals already burdened with vascular disease.

Includes resources, research papers and infographics.

Quebec’s largest annual campaign encouraging the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits. The Health Challenge is 6 weeks of motivation to improve one’s lifestyle habits! Setting 3 goals on your own, as a family, or as part of a team, for 6 weeks, from March 1 to April 11
·         Eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day
·         Get active at least 30 minutes a day. And for young people, it’s at least 60 minutes!
·         Sleeping better for increased wellness in life

The Play Exchange is the Public Health Agency of Canada’s flagship healthy living and chronic disease prevention initiative…. A first of its kind partnership that will ask Canadians to submit their ideas of how we can be more active. The Play Exchange will select Canadian judges, who will review all submissions and pick the top ideas. Business and Community leaders will work with the “innovators” to help develop their ideas and project proposals.  Fact Sheet

An exciting new program developed by family doctors. Its purpose is to help encourage people who are not getting enough exercise to become more active. Family doctors and other health care providers who are part of different Primary Care Networks (PCNs) in Edmonton and nearby areas first identify patients who could benefit from more exercise. Then they fill out a special prescription that provides details on how their patients can act on that recommendation.

Physical Activity: A golden goal for health! April 6th, 2014 

February 21, 2014

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc

Alberta Centre for Active Living

Note: Where possible, we provide the DOI link to research papers in the Info Round-Up.  To use it, cut and paste the DOI into the text box on this webpage:  Access to research articles will be dependent on your institutional rights.

An Act of the National Assembly for Wales to make provision for the mapping of active travel  routes and related facilities and for and in connection with integrated network maps; for securing  that there are new and improved active travel routes and related facilities; for requiring the  Welsh  Ministers and local authorities to take reasonable steps to enhance the provision made for, and to  have regard to the needs of, walkers and cyclists; for requiring functions under the Act to be  exercised so as to promote active travel journeys and secure new and improved active travel routes  and related facilities; and for connected purposes.

This link takes you to the main page where you can find the Executive Summary, Full Report and Appendix.  Researchers at USC looked at households near stations on Los Angeles' new Expo light-rail line, comparing the same households before and after construction to control households outside the corridor….. Physical activity also rose in the households near transit, presumably due to the ability to access more amenities on foot rather than by car

Explains how to use one set of tools – zoning and subdivision codes — to make your community more walkable and bikeable. It was designed to assist public health department professionals and advocates in their efforts to revise their local codes, but it may also be useful to other stakeholders routinely involved with updating and revising zoning and subdivision codes, including elected officials, planners, and local advocates.

This (US) Bill will allow communities to take advantage of low-cost financing for projects that make streets and sidewalks safer for all users through a new federal credit assistance program that would direct millions specifically for low-income communities.

With two new light rail lines set to open in Houston later this year, health and transportation researchers are teaming up for a long-term study on the benefits of walking to transit stops. They want to know if a couple of brisk walks a day can lead to major changes in well-being.

The Open Streets Initiatives: Measuring Success toolkit provides cities, bicycle/pedestrian agencies, academics, and others interested in measuring the success of Open Streets initiatives a framework for capturing physical activity, participant counts, business buy-in, and other relevant measures.

On February 6, Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Safe Streets Act of 2014 (S. 2004) in the U.S. Senate. The measure would require all new federally-funded transportation projects use a Complete Streets approach to planning, designing and building roads to accommodate the safety and convenience of all users. 

The term "sneckdown"—a mashup of "snow" and "neckdown"—started as a wonky Twitter hashtag but has sparked a broad discussion on how street space might be better used. Referring to the temporary narrowing of a street that occurs after a heavy snowfall, a sneckdown is nature's way of revealing opportunities for expanding the pedestrian zone.

You have the option to download the full report, including the list of top 15 Complete Streets policies from 2013 as well as a full explanation of our policy evaluation, or download the list of top 15 Complete Streets policies from 2013 as well as an overview of the policy evaluation.

Mount Royal University offers Canada’s first national accessible housing design program. Designed for professionals in the housing and construction industry, as well as health care specialists and “those with an interest in accessible housing. The program focuses on universal design, aging-in-place, and more.

Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2014, 11, 91-98
While the study does not establish causality, the results provide some support for the notion that policy makers interested in increasing physical activity levels should consider changing not only the physical environment, but also perceived neighborhood characteristics and travel attitudes.

Health & Place Vol 26, March 2014, Pages 118–126
After controlling for observed confounding influences, both original and new compactness measures are negatively related to BMI, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Indices are not significantly related to physical activity, perhaps because physical activity is not defined broadly to include active travel to work, shopping, and other destinations.

Researchers with the Minnesota Department of Transportation have published a study of safety impacts of implementing Complete Streets in the state and found that safety was generally improved among the 11 studied sites. The findings are based on both qualitative and quantitative data……

New report from the Building Healthy Places Initiative, released at ULI’s 2013 Fall Meeting in Chicago, delivers a new approach to building healthy communities….. It distills lessons learned from the three Advisory Services panels ULI conducted in the spring of 2013 as well as insights from a workshop attended by experts from a variety of fields

Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2014, 11, 206-227
These findings suggest that AST should be promoted to increase PA levels in children and adolescents and that cycling to/ from school is associated with increased cardiovascular fitness. Intervention studies are needed to increase the quality of evidence.

CS4L is pleased to announce the release of an update on the original 2005 Development Resource Paper.

This BHFNC evidence briefing focuses on children and young people aged 5-18. It looks at the available research evidence for the benefits of physical activity for this age group.  (It) paints a picture of how active children and young people across the UK currently are. It looks at factors affecting participation and the effectiveness of interventions that are designed to increase physical activity. This briefing is designed for professionals who require a detailed review of the evidence base available.

Am J of Preventive Medicine Vol 46, Iss 3, March 2014, Pages 289–292
The relationship between urbanicity and MVPA in youth appears to be more complex than previously envisioned. Rural residence appears to be supportive of MVPA in girls but not boys. Future research should consider urbanicity when investigating correlates/determinants of MVPA in youth.

Health & Place Vol 26, March 2014, Pages 60–68
·         Declines in children's independent mobility (IM) are often attributed to parents fear.
·         We examined the association between parents' fear of strangers and children’s IM.
·         Parents fear appeared to inhibit IM, and the effect was most pronounced among girls.
·         The inclusion of informal social control did little to alleviate this association.
·         Initiatives that target parents’ fears and normalize walking may best promote IM.

This South Providence Elementary school had a chronic absenteeism problem. Then they started a walking school bus…….

A new tool from the Center for Disease Control helps communities understand and communicate the cost of chronic health conditions in terms of both direct medical expenditures and lost productivity from absenteeism and missed work.

Preventive Medicine Volume 60, March 2014, Pages 33–40
·         We examined the effectiveness of a web-based program to increase physical activity.
·         Web-based delivery can provide targeted material to an extended audience.
·         Web-based programs can report high levels of participant engagement.
·         The intervention increased short-term physical activity in adults with Type 2 diabetes.
·         Further investigation is required to support long-term changes in physical activity.
Exercise as treatment for chronic disease conference will take place on the 1st May 2014 on the Gold Coast, hosted by The Centre for Research in Evidence Based Practice and The Collaborative Research network: Advancing Exercise and Sports Science

May 27 - May 28, 2014 Toronto, ON
This conference is co-hosted by the Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre located at Parachute and the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit. It is a follow-up to the highly successful, “sold out” First National Fall Prevention conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2010. This high-calibre event will bring together experts from across Canada and around the world to share research excellence, clinical advances and policy innovations in fall and injury prevention among older adults. It is an exceptional opportunity for those who work with older adults in all settings: researchers, practitioners and policymakers in the field of seniors’ health and injury prevention.

A report from the Ontario Brain Institute.  To better understand how physical activity can contribute to the prevention and management of Alzheimer’s disease, 871 research articles were reviewed. After closer inspection and quality scoring, 24 randomized control trials and 21 prospective cohort studies examining physical activity and Alzheimer’s disease were selected for further analysis.

Welcome to Ideas that Move You, a selection of current articles on active living brought to you by McGill University’s Bloomberg Manulife Prize for the Promotion of Active Health. Like the Prize, which rewards groundbreaking research and discovery that encourages healthy living, we are here to bring you the latest news about innovative practices and ideas from around the world that we hope will inspire and empower you to lead a more active, healthier life.

The results show that participation in regular sporting activity is almost universal among primary school children – what happens subsequently is what matters…... As people progress through adulthood, whether they participate in regular sporting activity is less related to attitudes and beliefs about the benefits of sport than to other transitions that occur in their lives.

A pilot YMCA program with AIR MILES for Social Change shows loyalty incentives are a significant driver.  Commissioned by YMCA and PHAC to devise a cost-effective incentive program to help increase activities amongst adults and children, the pilot study launched in April 2013 and is still in market.  Results reported here are up until December 2013.

Health & Place Vol 26, March 2014, Pages 149–160
·         Repeated cross-sectional studies support a causal relationship of environment with PA.
·         Favorable environmental factors in 2006 were positively related to PA in 2009.
·         Changes in environmental factors between 2006 and 2009 led to increased PA in 2009.
·         Future research should include objective assessment of changes in area factors.

Valued at $50,000 CAD, is offered each year by McGill University to an academic whose research has had, or has the potential to have, a significant impact on the health and well-being of North Americans (with research taking place within the last five years).  Past winners include Steven Blair and James Sallis.

Health & Place Vol 26, March 2014, Pages 7–13
·         Active living research can be vulnerable to accusations of physical determinism (the belief that environment can causally influence behavior).
·         Theoretical grounding and thoughtful research design can limit these accusations and increase validity.
·         Key strategies can include recognizing shortcomings and using mixed methods research to better understand context.

This is the first time the Federal Department of Health’s adult Guidelines have included recommendations to limit sedentary behavior – a move which reflects growing evidence about the harms of too much sitting. New guidance is also provided in relation to muscle strengthening activities twice per week. This is in recognition of the growing importance of muscle strengthening for chronic disease prevention, and for maintaining optimal musculoskeletal health and function throughout adult life.

Am J of Preventive Medicine Vol 46, Iss 3, March 2014, Pages 265–272
Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health participants answered questions about time spent sitting, walking, and in moderate and vigorous leisure activities in 2001 (n=6108); 2004 (n=5902); 2007 (n=5754); and 2010 (n=5535) surveys….. National health insurance claims data averaged over the survey year ±1 year were used to calculate annual costs….. Physical inactivity, but not prolonged sitting, was associated with higher health-related costs in middle-aged women.

What we know about sitting and standing. In our modern sedentary culture we sit way too much. That’s clearly the conclusion of the research. But that research also highlights the obvious remedy: standing!

Preventive Medicine Available online 14 Feb 2014 In Press
·         Interventions to increase physical activity in pre-adolescent girls result in significant but small changes
·         Larger effects for interventions are evident for girls-only and those using educational and multicomponent strategies
·         Larger effects for interventions are evident for atheoretical but high quality studies
·         Larger effects for interventions are evident when targeting physical activity and diet together

American Journal of Preventive Medicine Volume 46, Issue 3, Supplement 1, March 2014, Pages S42–S51 (Opportunities for Cancer Prevention During Midlife)
The findings underscore the persistent impact of the work environment for workers of all ages. Based on the results, programs or policies aimed at improving the work environment, especially decision latitude, job flexibility, and workplace harassment should be included in the design of worksite-based health promotion interventions targeting physical activity or obesity.

A statewide initiative by Victoria Walks aimed at getting Victorian workers away from their desks and onto their feet. It’s all about taking a little time out of your day to Walk the Block and, as a result, help create happier, healthier workplaces