Issue 9, October 2011

Issue 9, October 2011

Active Living Research News

ALR Resources

Making the Most of Physical Education is a video for school administrators, board members, teachers, parents, and others interested in quality physical education (PE). The video, which is based on findings from Monica Lounsbery’s study, focuses on characteristics of quality PE, barriers to its delivery, and the relationship between PE and academic achievement. See the call to action in the video.

Grantee Publications

Boys are more active playing intramural sports
Research published by Jason Bocarro and colleagues looked at whether school policy (intramural vs. varsity) influences students’ likelihood of physically activity after school, with a comparison of different types of activity settings (e.g. gym, basketball court, open field).  Findings indicated that competitive varsity sports were associated with lower physical activity levels among boys but not girls.  Also, five of the eight physical activity settings studied were associated with higher activity levels among boys but not girls. This is an important finding because activity settings are modifiable features of school environments.

Kids are less active when parents are too protective
Myron Floyd
and colleagues examined the kind of factors related to kids being active in parks.  Factors included the age and gender of kids, presence of parents or other adult supervision, type of park activity (e.g. free play, organized athletic play), recreation facilities in parks, and neighborhood characteristics (e.g. urban density, racial diversity).  The most unexpected finding was that kids were half as likely to be active when they had parents supervising them closely compared with kids whose parents did not watch over them as closely. This was especially true among younger children. Read the study to see other findings. This study received significant media attention, including in Time magazine.

Active Hispanic mothers have more active kids
According to a new study by Norma Olvera and colleagues, mothers play an important role in influencing their children’s physical activity. The research examined the influence of mother’s physical activity levels and mother’s acculturation (extent to which they have adopted American behaviors and values) on physical activity in Hispanic children.  Results found that active mothers and mothers who were less acculturated were more likely to have active children.

Policy and Practice Impacts

In March, Colorado passed House Bill 1069, which requires each Colorado school board to adopt policies making more time for physical activity.  The bill’s lobbying team used ALR’s Active Education research brief to develop talking points, fact sheets, and communication with legislators.  The research brief also helped the state’s public health association and its partners coordinate technical assistance and resources for local schools as they work to improve the quality of physical activity time during the school day.

Research conducted by J.O. Spengler on the shared use (aka “joint use”) of school recreational facilities informed several different policy and advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association (AHA). Much of the AHA’s policy position around shared use is based on Dr. Spengler’s work.  Dr. Spengler’s research shaped AHA legislative initiatives, including a successful effort to pass legislation in Minnesota to clarify school liability for injuries from community recreational use of school property.  In addition, the research informed the AHA’s efforts (in conjunction with the Public Health Law Center) to develop model liability legislation for schools across the nation.

Grantee Highlights

An op-ed piece appearing in the Baltimore Sun by Keshia Pollack emphasized the importance of walking school buses and their power to increase children’s physical activity.  Walking school buses (WSB), a strategy promoted through the Safe Routes to School program, consist of groups of children walking to school with one or more adults. Research shows that WSBs increase physical activity, promote social cohesion in the community, and reduce traffic-related injuries. The op-ed was published on International Walk to School Day and is part of Dr. Pollack’s ALR Research Translation project, which supports the translation and dissemination of evidence to inform policy.

Resources and Publications of Interest

A new report on School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity is available. The report emphasizes the importance of coordinated school policies and practices; a supportive environment; school nutrition services; physical education and physical activity programs; health education; health, mental health, and social services; family and community involvement; school employee wellness; and professional development for school staff.

A special supplement of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health titled “Building Capacity—Celebrating 16 Years of Physical Activity and Public Health Postgraduate Training Courses” is now available online. Capacity-building in the Physical Activity and Public Health field is critical, given the few formal doctoral training programs in the field and its hybrid nature. This special supplement recognizes the contributions of the Physical Activity and Public Health (PAPH) Postgraduate Course on Research Directions and Strategies in building such capacity.

A new book, Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Health, Well-being, and Sustainability, provides a far-reaching follow-up to the path-breaking Urban Sprawl and Public Health, published in 2004. That book sparked a range of inquiries into the connections between constructed environments, particularly cities and suburbs, and the health of residents. Since then, numerous studies have extended and refined the book's research and reporting. Making Healthy Places offers a fresh and comprehensive look at this vital subject and is essential reading for all those who care about the design of their communities.

The City Project is proud to present a new policy report, Healthy Parks, Schools and Communities: Green Access and Equity for Southern California. This comprehensive report includes in-depth policy and legal analyses of green access and equal justice for the southern California region, maps and demographic analyses, and recommendations for improving green access for all.

Newsletter Date: 
Saturday, October 1, 2011