Policy-makers

Compelling and understandable research can go a long way in shaping policy decisions that support active communities. Our resources can help inform any stage of the policy-making process. We can help you put active living on the agenda; present evidence-based strategies that have potential for wide-scale impact; and share real-life examples that show how research has impacted policy.

 

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New Research Shows Active Populations Create Winning Cities

Experts call on city leaders to make active cities a reality at summit in Bristol.

June 9, 2015 - Experts are gathering at a summit today to make the case that cities that encourage physical activity have a clear economic advantage.

Taking place in Bristol, UK, speakers from KPMG, The University of California, and the CBI, alongside Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson, will call on city leaders to make physical activity a priority and recognise the positive economic and social benefits that it can bring.

Making the Case for Active Cities: The Co-Benefits of Designing for Active Living

Date: 
03/15/2015
Abstract: 

Creating "activity-friendly environments" is recommended to promote physical activity, but potential co-benefits of such environments have not been well described. An extensive but non-systematic review of scientific and "gray" literature was conducted to explore a wide range of literature to understand the co-benefits of activity-friendly environments on physical health, mental health, social benefits, safety/injury prevention, environmental sustainability, and economics. Five physical activity settings were defined: parks/trails, urban design, transportation, schools, and workplaces/buildings.

A peer-reviewed paper based on this report is available online through open access here.

Authors: 
James F. Sallis, PhD & Chad Spoon, MRP, Active Living Research
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Making the Case for Designing Active Cities

Date: 
02/15/2015
Description: 

Sallis, J.F., Spoon, C., Cavill, N., Engelberg, J., Gebel, K., Lou, D., Parker, M., Thornton, C.M., Wilson, A., Cutter, C.L., Ding, D. (2015). Making the Case for Designing Active Cities. San Diego, CA: Active Living Research.

A peer-reviewed paper based on this report is available online through open access in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Abstract: 

Creating "activity-friendly environments" is recommended to promote physical activity, but potential co-benefits of such environments have not been well described. An extensive but non-systematic review of scientific and "gray" literature was conducted to explore a wide range of literature to understand the co-benefits of activity-friendly environments on physical health, mental health, social benefits, safety/injury prevention, environmental sustainability, and economics. Five physical activity settings were defined: parks/trails, urban design, transportation, schools, and workplaces/buildings.

KEY FINDINGS

  • A total of 418 higher-quality findings were summarized based on direction of association and quality of source.
  • The overall summary indicated 22 of 30 setting by outcome combinations showed “strong” evidence of co-benefits.
  • Each setting had strong evidence of at least 3 of the 6 co-benefits, and parks and trails had strong evidence of all 6 co-benefits. Thus, for each setting there are multiple features that can be designed to both facilitate physical activity and produce co-benefits.
  • All five physical activity settings could be designed so they have positive effects on economic outcomes, including increased home value, greater retail activity, reduced health care costs, and improved productivity.
  • Activity-friendly design in all settings had strong evidence of environmental co-benefits based on reduced pollution and carbon emissions.
  • There were many gaps in evidence of co-benefits in the schools and workplace settings as well the health consequences of environments that support active travel.
  • Overall, there was little evidence of negative consequences of activity-friendly environments.

 

IMPLICATIONS

The most important conclusion of this review is that creating communities, transportation systems, schools, and buildings that make physical activity attractive and convenient also produces a wide range of other benefits for communities. Rather than thinking that designing one feature of a transportation system or school is sufficient, we encourage decision-makers and designers to consider how features in all settings can be optimized for physical activity and multiple other benefits. We urge mayors, other city officials, and staff in multiple departments to consult these findings as an aid in decision-making.

DESIGNED TO MOVE: ACTIVE CITIES

The findings from our Making the Case for Designing Active Cities is prominently featured in Designed to Move: Active Cities, a guide for city leaders that provides a comprehensive summary of the evidence base to-date, along with bright spots and specific recommendations for leaders to make any city an active city.

 

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How Can Schools Help Youth Increase Physical Activity? An Economic Analysis Comparing School-Based Programs

Date: 
12/01/2014
Description: 

Babey, S. H., Wu, S., & Cohen, D. A. (2014). How Can Schools Help Youth Increase Physical Activity? An Economic Analysis Comparing School-Based Programs. Preventive Medicine, 69(Suppl), S55-S60.

Abstract: 

OBJECTIVE: For optimal health, physical activity should be an integral and routine part of daily life. Youth spend a significant amount of time at school yet rarely achieve the recommended 60 min of moderate and vigorous physical activity in physical education (PE) classes or recess. This study assessed the following types of school-based opportunities to improve physical activity for youth: after-school programs, before-school programs, PE classes, extended-day PE, and short physical activity breaks during the school day. METHOD: An economic analysis conducted in 2013 compared school-based approaches to increasing physical activity. Analysis factors included costs, reach, effects on physical activity gains, cost-effectiveness, and other potentially augmenting benefits. RESULTS: Two programs were significantly superior in terms of reach and cost per student: (1) extending the school day with mandatory PE participation and (2) offering short (10-minute) physical activity breaks during regular classroom hours. After-school program costs per student are high and the programs have a smaller reach, but they offer benefits (such as childcare) that may justify their higher costs. Before-school programs did not appear feasible. CONCLUSION: Incorporating short physical activity breaks into the existing school day would be a cost-effective way to increase school-based activity. This type of program is inexpensive and has broad reach. Inserting activity breaks throughout the day is appropriate, especially when youth are otherwise largely sedentary.

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Moving Kids Towards Success! School Policies that Support Active, Attentive Students

Children who are physically active and fit tend to perform better in the classroom, but many schools allow little to no time for students to be active, due to a lack of resources, personnel, or time in the day. Policies that support daily physical education and regular activity breaks during the school day can help increase physical activity, elevate physical fitness levels, and improve academic performance and classroom behavior among students.

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