Active Living Research News
Highlights from ALR2014
The results are in and the ALR 2014 conference was yet another success. Nearly 350 delegates from all parts of the globe attended and, consistent with previous years, nearly half of the attendees were newcomers – indicating the growing interest in active living. Thank you to our conference chair Keshia Pollack for her leadership in planning a wonderful event!
This year’s distinguished keynote, Jonathan Fielding, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health, shared examples of how environments and policies supporting active living are becoming the norm in LA County. A panel of experts, including Larry Morandi of the National Conference of State Legislators, Geoff Anderson from Smart Growth America, Jean Armbruster of the PLACE Program of the LA County Department of Health, and Mayor Chip Johnson from the City of Hernando, MS, gave more examples of positive change and how it is accomplished.
Save the Date!
The ALR 2015 conference dates are set, so please mark your calendars for February 22 – 25, 2015 and plan to join us in sunny San Diego. Check the ALR website for updated conference details. Look for the Call for Abstracts to be released May 2014.
Sedentary Behavior Impacts Youth Obesity
Spending excessive time engaging in sedentary behaviors, such as watching TV, playing video games, and other screen time activities, contributes to physical inactivity and obesity. A new research review, Sedentary Behaviors and Youth: Current Trends and the Impact on Health, examines trends in sedentary behaviors among youth and their impact on obesity as well as explores differences in the prevalence of sedentary behaviors based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status.
Changing Communities Gets People Moving Infographic
Communities across the nation are doing more to ensure that streets, sidewalks, schools, and parks support walking, biking, and playing. This infographic highlights several studies which evaluated changes in physical activity after the implementation of built environment and programmatic modifications in different cities.
Do All Kids Have Safe Places to Be Active? Infographic
Children living in poor or predominantly minority neighborhoods are less likely to have clean, safe, and attractive places to be physically active. They are also at higher risk for obesity, overweight, and related health problems. This infographic features evidence on some of the barriers these kids face in being able to walk, bike, or play in their schools and neighborhoods. Findings in this infographic come from a related research synthesis.
Open Streets Initiatives: Measuring Success Toolkit
A toolkit by ALR grantees Aaron Hipp and Amy Eyler provides cities, bicycle/pedestrian agencies, academics, and others interested in measuring the success of Open Streets initiatives a framework for measuring communication, reach, activity hubs, participant counts, physical activity type and level, cost-benefit analysis, and local business evaluation. There are also examples of collected data, policy briefs and references to published work.
Mississippi In-School Physical Activity Policy
A new research brief by ALR grantees Abigail Gamble and Jeffrey Hallam synthesizes research conducted in Mississippi regarding state in-school physical activity requirements, student weight status, and academic achievement. A few notable findings include: Approximately 44% of schools studied did not have a recess policy; School-level PE policies reflect an average of half the required number of minutes mandated by state policy and; Despite challenges, some schools within the Mississippi Delta have successful in-school physical activity programs that meet State mandates.
Online Tool to Measure Physical Activity Practices at Your School
ALR grantees Monica Lounsbery and Thomas McKenzie have produced an 8-item, online tool you can use to assess the physical activity practices at your school. The PASS (Physical Activity School Score) tool provides a score for each item, information on evidence-based physical activity practices, and strategies for making improvements. Upon completion, the tool offers a Total School Score and Grade, a chart illustrating how other schools compare, and access to resources about school physical activity evidence-based practices.
Intramural Sports Increase Access to Sports for Economically Disadvantaged Students
Michael Edwards and colleagues simulated the potential effect of implementing more inclusionary intramural sports programs in middle schools in North Carolina, where current models favor more exclusionary interscholastic sports. The study simulations found that adding intramural sports to existing interscholastic sports programs at all middle schools in NC would increase participation levels of economically disadvantaged students by nearly 37%.
Staff Training Matters for Recess
A new study by Jennifer Huberty and colleagues examined the effectiveness of Ready for Recess, an elementary school recess intervention targeting staff training or providing recreational equipment separately, and the combination of both training and equipment on student physical levels. Results from the study show that environmental modifications are only as strong as the staff that implement them. Supervision, if not adult interaction, may be detrimental to physical activity participation, especially in girls.
Built Environment Impacts Type 2 Diabetes
Stephanie Hsieh explored the associations between the built environment and aspects of metabolism related to type 2 diabetes in Hispanic youth. The study findings indicate reducing access to fast food and increasing public park space may be valuable to addressing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, but effects may vary by gender.
Announcements and Other Resources
Measuring Sprawl 2014
A new report, Measuring Sprawl 2014, from Smart Growth America ranks every major metropolitan area in the US based on its development pattern, looking to see which communities are more compact and connected and which are more sprawling. The research found that people in compact, connected communities have greater upward economic mobility, choose to use transit and walk more, live longer, have lower body mass index, and a host of other benefits.
2014 County Health Rankings Released
A collaborative project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps show a snapshot of how healthy a county’s residents are, and look at data across 29 factors that are linked to health. The Rankings allow communities to see county-by-county where they are doing well and where they need to improve. This year’s Rankings include new factors, such as housing, transportation, food environment, and access to mental health providers which help to paint an even more comprehensive picture of what impacts a community’s health.
Implementing Physical Activity Strategies
The National Physical Activity Plan Alliance and the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity have released a new book titled Implementing Physical Activity Strategies. The book is comprised of 42 physical activity programs that are designed to help people adopt more active and healthy lifestyles based on the National Physical Activity Plan. This new resource highlights innovative and proven physical activity programs representing the eight sectors of the plan.
Provide Input on HIA Standards
The co-authors of the North American Health Impact Assessment Practice Standards have announced an Open Comment period on the current version of the Minimum Elements and Practice Standards for Health Impact Assessment (Version 2.0). The Open Comment period will run from March 3 – April 30, 2014. Click here to learn more about guidelines for submitting comments, process/timeline for the update, and how to submit comments.
America Walks is hosting a discussion forum on April 30th at 11 am PT titled The Impact of Walking on the Environment and on the Economy. Speakers will address how walking impacts the environment, how getting children outdoors and more active strengthens the environment, and how walking and walkability are linked to economic growth and vibrant communities.
Localeikki Connects People to Active Places
Tracy McMillan, an ALR alum & former professor of urban planning & public health at the University of Texas-Austin, talks to us about her active living start-up, localeikki – a database of locally recommended, publicly accessible places to be active. Read her interview and learn more about localeikki here.
Parent Toolkit Includes Health & Wellness
Education Nation’s Parent Toolkit now includes a special Health & Wellness section offering parents grade-by-grade tips for supporting a healthy lifestyle for their child. You can find actionable parent tips about nutrition, sleep, physical development, and exercise.
Correction to Issue 22, January 2013 Newsletter
The story featured in the last newsletter (Issue 22, January 2013) about RALA being used in more rural communities, stated that “the Centers for Disease Control asked David Hartley, who co-created RALA with an ALR grant, to consult with the CDC's Community Transformation Grant (CTG) recipients on using the tools. In result, Maine decided to use CTG money to assess every single community in the state over the next two years.” This statement is incorrect. Maine is implementing the RALA as part of the Healthy Maine Partnerships Initiative. The HMP has worked closely with David Hartley in this implementation. As a result of adding this work to the HMP programming the RALA will be performed in every Maine municipality by 2016. CTG funding has been used in Maine to establish Active Community Environment Teams. Once established a number of these teams have been recruited to assist in a RALA in their communities, but RALA is not the primary focus or strategy for the CTG in Maine.
ALR Staff Moves On
ALR’s Debbie Lou has moved on to a new and exciting position as the Program Director for the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy at UCSD’s Moores Cancer Center. Debbie was with ALR for 7 years and helped the program reach new audiences. We wish Debbie all the best in her new career.