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 

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