Issue 1, December 2009

Issue 1, December 2009

Active Living Research News

Welcome to the inaugural issue of ALR’s newsletter, Active Living Research News. To help our grantees and partners keep track of the research and news in our burgeoning field, the quarterly newsletter will feature new research related to active living, examples of how research has informed policy and practice, media highlights, and other events and information related to physical activity and childhood obesity.

Research from the Field

Preventive Medicine

Please check out the October 2009 themed issue of Preventive Medicine entitled “Forum on Physical Activity Research and Funding: Prioritizing Physical Activity Promotion: A Public Health Imperative.” The issue (Vol. 49, No. 4) edited by ALR grantee Toni Yancey, focuses on re-evaluating the role of physical activity as a positive health determinant and its potential in preventive health policy. We encourage you to take some of the recommended actions to enhance the priority of physical activity in research, policy, and practice. To access Preventive Medicine, click here.

The Regional Response to Federal Funding for Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects Executive Summary

In this report, Barbara McCann and ALR grantee Susan Handy explore the efficacy of federal funding for non-motorized modes of transportation through an analysis of patterns of spending across metropolitan regions, and provides an analysis of the impact of these investments on bicycling and walking behavior. (July 2009). To access report, click here.

Active Transportation: Making the Link from Transportation to Physical Activity and Obesity Research Brief

In this brief, ALR grantee Daniel Rodriguez summarizes the latest peer-reviewed research that demonstrates the potential impact of infrastructure investments and other transportation programs on walking and bicycling for transportation, and on related health outcomes. (Summer 2009). To access research brief, click here.

Grantee Studies

ALR grantee Robert Whitaker published a study showing that the majority of the nation’s Head Start programs report doing more to support healthy eating and physical activity than is required by existing federal regulations. Findings indicate what Head Start programs are doing right and areas where they can do better at improving access to healthy foods and increasing opportunities for physical activity among young children.

  • Whitaker RC, Gooze RA, Hughes CC, Finkelstein DM. A National Survey of Obesity Prevention Practices in Head Start. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 2009; 163(12):1144-1150.


ALR grantee Reid Ewing co-authored a comprehensive how-to guide for traffic calming in the United States. Planners and engineers can find guidance on how to use, design, and implement traffic-calming measures. The manual is also a useful introduction to traffic calming for local officials, developers, and community associations.

  • Reid Ewing and Steven Brown, U.S. Traffic Calming Manual, Published by APA Planners Press and American Society of Civil Engineers, 2009.


ALR grantees David Hartley and Anush Yousefian published an article that explored individual and environmental factors of active living among youth in rural communities. Findings revealed a host of factors related to physical activity across the four domains of active living--transportation, recreation, occupation, and household.

  • Yousefian A, Ziller E, Swartz J, Hartley D. Active living for rural youth: addressing physical inactivity in rural communities. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 2009;15(3): 223-231.


The following studies published by ALR grantees are featured in the Journal of Public Health Policy, 2009, Vol. 30(S1).

Walking to School among Texas Public Elementary School Students

ALR grantees Xuemei Zhu and Chanam Lee studied 2,695 students from 19 elementary schools in Austin, Texas to identify multi-level correlates of walking to/from school and relevant policy implications. Findings suggest that society should prioritize lower-income populations and focus on multi-agency policy interventions that facilitate environmental changes, safety improvements, and educational programs targeting both parents and children. To access the journal article, click here.

Evaluation of Physical Activity Requirement in Texas Public Elementary Schools

ALR grantee Steven Kelder and colleagues examined the awareness of and adherence to Texas Senate Bill 19. Passed in 2001, the bill required students in publicly funded elementary schools to participate in physical activity and schools to implement a coordinated school health program by September 1, 2007. Results point to the need for continued monitoring of enacted legislation, and suggest that school-based child health legislation requires funding and refinement to produce the intended effect. To access the journal article, click here.

Policy and Practice Impact Spotlight

ALR grantee Karen Mumford of Emory University led a study on parks in DeKalb County, GA to identify the factors that increase the likelihood of park use and physical activity in parks. The research team made a presentation to DeKalb county elected officials and government staff. As a result, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners’ Chief Executive Office called on the county to make park accessibility a policy priority. When she learned that increasing sidewalk access to parks was associated with an increase in physical activity, Susan Hood, the director of green space acquisition in Dekalb County, was convinced that “access was as important as acres.” Susan subsequently identified and purchased, on behalf of the county, parcels of land adjacent to the study park to provide pedestrian access.

Nina Hansen, a PE/Health Specialist at the Gateway Preparatory Academy in Enoch, Utah, is a great example of a teacher who understands the positive influence that physical activity can have on academic achievement. Ms. Hansen, who is conducting a master’s project based on providing a holistic curriculum for grades 1 through 8, found ALR’s Active Education research brief very useful in her work. Her lesson plans incorporate physical activity in teaching anatomy, foreign language, and social studies. Ms. Hansen also helped a colleague who was having trouble keeping her students on task in the classroom. Ms. Hansen invited her to come into the gym each morning to engage her students in fun creative games. After two weeks, the teacher reported a significant improvement in concentration and behavior in her class. Ms. Hansen told ALR, “The kids have so much fun they do not realize they are getting a great workout!” To access the ALR research brief, click here.

Newsletter Date: 
Tuesday, December 1, 2009