Communities

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The way communities are designed has a great influence on how active we are. When communities are safe, well-maintained and have appealing scenery, children and families are more likely to be active. Unfortunately, many people—especially those at high risk for obesity—live in communities that lack parks and have high crime rates, dangerous traffic patterns and unsafe sidewalks.  Such communities discourage residents from walking, bicycling and playing outside. Increasingly, local governments are considering how community design will impact residents’ physical activity. Our research documents effective strategies for creating communities that support active living and promote health.

View The Role of Communities in Promoting Physical Activity infographic.

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The Influence of Walkability on Broader Mobility for Canadian Middle Aged and Older Adults: An Examination of Walk Score and the Mobility Over Varied Environments Scale (MOVES)

Date: 
02/01/2017
Description: 

Hirsch, J.A., Winters, M., Clarke, P.J., Ste-Marie, N., & McKay, H.A. (2017). The Influence of Walkability on Broader Mobility for Canadian Middle Aged and Older Adults: An Examination of Walk Score™ and the Mobility Over Varied Environments Scale (MOVES). Prev Med. 95(Suppl), S60-S67.

Abstract: 

Neighborhood built environments may play an important role in shaping mobility and subsequent health outcomes. However, little work includes broader mobility considerations such as cognitive ability to be mobile, social connections with community, or transportation choices. We used a population-based sample of Canadian middle aged and older adults (aged 45 and older) from the Canadian Community Health Survey-Healthy Aging (CCHS-HA, 2008–2009) to create a holistic mobility measure: Mobility over Varied Environments Scale (MOVES). Data from CCHS-HA respondents from British Columbia with MOVES were linked with Street Smart Walk Score™ data by postal code (n = 2046). Mean MOVES was estimated across sociodemographic and health characteristics. Linear regression, adjusted for relevant covariates, was used to estimate the association between Street Smart Walk Score™ and the MOVES. The mean MOVES was 30.67 (95% confidence interval (CI) 30.36, 30.99), 5th percentile 23.27 (CI 22.16, 24.38) and 95th percentile was 36.93 (CI 35.98, 37.87). MOVES was higher for those who were younger, married, higher socioeconomic status, and had better health. In unadjusted models, for every 10 point increase in Street Smart Walk Score™, MOVES increased 4.84 points (CI 4.52, 5.15). However, results attenuated after adjustment for sociodemographic covariates: each 10 point increase in Street Smart Walk Score™ was associated with a 0.10 (CI 0.00, 0.20) point increase in MOVES. The modest but important link we observed between walkability and mobility highlights the implication of neighborhood design on the health of middle aged and older adults.

Authors: 
JA Hirsch, M Winters, PJ Clarke, N Ste-Marie, & HA McKay
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Strength of Obesity Prevention Interventions in Early Care and Education Settings: A Systematic Review

Date: 
02/01/2017
Description: 

Ward, D.S., Welker, E., Choate, A., et al. (2017). Strength of Obesity Prevention Interventions in Early Care and Education Settings: A Systematic Review. Prev Med. 95(Suppl), S37-S52.

Abstract: 

Time and place of study: 2010–2015; international.

Given the high levels of obesity in young children, numbers of children in out-of-home care, and data suggesting a link between early care and education (ECE) participation and overweight/obesity, obesity prevention in ECE settings is critical. As the field has progressed, a number of interventions have been reviewed yet there is a need to summarize the data using more sophisticated analyses to answer questions on the effectiveness of interventions. We conducted a systematic review of obesity prevention interventions in center-based ECE settings published between 2010 and 2015. Our goal was to identify promising intervention characteristics associated with successful behavioral and anthropometric outcomes. A rigorous search strategy resulted in 43 interventions that met inclusion criteria. We developed a coding strategy to assess intervention strength, used a validated study quality assessment tool, and presented detailed descriptive information about interventions (e.g., target behaviors, intervention strategies, and mode of delivery). Intervention strength was positively correlated with reporting of positive anthropometric outcomes for physical activity, diet, and combined interventions, and parent engagement components increased the strength of these relationships. Study quality was modestly related to percent successful healthy eating outcomes. Relationships between intervention strength and behavioral outcomes demonstrated negative relationships for all behavioral outcomes. Specific components of intervention strength (number of intervention strategies, potential impact of strategies, frequency of use, and duration of intervention) were correlated with some of the anthropometric and parent engagement outcomes. The review provided tentative evidence that multi-component, multi-level ECE interventions with parental engagement are most likely to be effective with anthropometric outcomes.

Authors: 
DS Ward, E Welker, A Choate, KE Henderson, M Lott, A Tovar, A Wilson, & JF Sallis
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The 2016 Active Living Research Conference: Equity in Active Living

Date: 
02/01/2017
Description: 

Keith, N.R., Baskin, M.L., Wilhelm Stanis, S.A., & Sallis, J.F. (2017). The 2016 Active Living Research Conference: Equity in Active Living. Prev Med. 95(Suppl), S1-S3.

Authors: 
NR Keith, ML Baskin, SA Wilhelm Stanis, & JF Sallis
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Walking and Walkability in Rural Communities

Different environments or types of communities offer different opportunities and challenges for promoting walking and walkability. Learn about some of the challenges that come with working in rural environments and a selection of resources that provide unique opportunities to promote walking and walkability in rural communities. Hear from WalkBoston as they talk about their work in promoting walking and walkability across the state of Massachusetts followed by examining two resources available to help you do the same in your community! 

Presenters

Research Translation: Lessons from Dissemination and Implementation Research for Interventions Promoting Walking and Walkability

The objective of this webinar was to discuss how complex research results can be translated to inform practice and policy. The presenters described appropriate study designs and methods for Dissemination and Implementation research. These principles were illustrated with examples.

Presentations included:

Public Health and Policy Dissemination Research
Ross C. Brownson, PhD, Bernard Becker Professor, Director, Prevention Research Center, Washington University in St. Louis

Designing and Conducting Research on Policy Implementation

This webinar, designed primarily for researchers, featured two leading researchers who discussed the design and methods of conducting studies in the area of implementation science as it relates to policy, practice, and environmental changes to promote physical activity. The presentations defined the field of implementation science, introduced implementation theories and outcome models, methods used, and addressed the challenges in this field of study, lessons learned, and recommendations for other researchers who are looking carry out their policy studies. Dr.

The Benefits of Street-Scale Features for Walking and Biking

Date: 
09/01/2015
Description: 

Maurer Braun, L. & Reed, A. (2015). The Benefits of Street-Scale Features for Walking and Biking. Washington, DC: American Planning Association.

Abstract: 

As the costs of physical inactivity become increasingly evident, and as planners, public health professionals, and others working in the field of active transportation strive to promote walking and biking, the necessity of retrofitting and updating street facilities and sidewalk features is apparent. The benefits of incorporating infrastructure that supports active transportation into our streetscapes are many. While efforts to encourage walking and biking often focus on physical activity benefits, it is important to recognize that investments in these travel modes offer a wider set of potential co-benefits for communities.

This literature review focuses on the benefits that may arise from investment in different types of street-scale features, either independently or in combination. The review considers not only potential impacts related to physical activity—which have been treated extensively in the literature to date—but also a variety of co-benefits including social cohesion, crime prevention and public safety, multimodal traffic safety, mental health, and economic effects. The review links these co-benefits to various types of street-scale features that encourage walking and biking, such as sidewalks, bicycle lanes, traffic calming, crossing aids, aesthetics and placemaking, public space, street trees, green infrastructure, and street furniture.

This analysis provides background information and supportive data for planners, transportation professionals, advocates, and policy makers working to encourage community design that promotes active transportation. Through this report, individuals working locally will be able to highlight the co-benefits of street-scale interventions that support walking and biking.

This report was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the Active Living Research program.

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Is Your Neighborhood Designed to Support Physical Activity? A Brief Streetscape Audit Tool

Date: 
09/03/2015
Description: 

Sallis, J.F., Cain, K.L., Conway, T.L., Gavand, K.A., Millstein, R.A., Geremia, C.M.,et al. (2015). Is Your Neighborhood Designed to Support Physical Activity? A Brief Streetscape Audit Tool. Preventing Chronic Disease, 12(E141), 1-11.

Abstract: 

INTRODUCTION: Macro level built environment factors (eg, street connectivity, walkability) are correlated with physical activity. Less studied but more modifiable microscale elements of the environment (eg, crosswalks) may also affect physical activity, but short audit measures of microscale elements are needed to promote wider use. This study evaluated the relation of a 15-item neighborhood environment audit tool with a full version of the tool to assess neighborhood design on physical activity in 4 age groups. METHODS: From the 120-item Microscale Audit of Pedestrian Streetscapes (MAPS) measure of street design, sidewalks, and street crossings, we developed the 15-item version (MAPS-Mini) on the basis of associations with physical activity and attribute modifiability. As a sample of a likely walking route, MAPS-Mini was conducted on a 0.25-mile route from participant residences toward the nearest nonresidential destination for children (n = 758), adolescents (n = 897), younger adults (n = 1,655), and older adults (n = 367). Active transportation and leisure physical activity were measured with age-appropriate surveys, and accelerometers provided objective physical activity measures. Mixed-model regressions were conducted for each MAPS item and a total environment score, adjusted for demographics, participant clustering, and macrolevel walkability. RESULTS: Total scores of MAPS-Mini and the 120-item MAPS correlated at r = .85. Total microscale environment scores were significantly related to active transportation in all age groups. Items related to active transport in 3 age groups were presence of sidewalks, curb cuts, street lights, benches, and buffer between street and sidewalk. The total score was related to leisure physical activity and accelerometer measures only in children. CONCLUSION: The MAPS-Mini environment measure is short enough to be practical for use by community groups and planning agencies and is a valid substitute for the full version that is 8 times longer.

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