Archives 1 - Practitioner Information
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- Although a number of environmental and policy interventions to promote physical activity are being widely used, there is sparse systematic information on the most effective approaches to guide population-wide interventions.
- The authors reviewed studies that addressed the following environmental and policy strategies to promote physical activity: community-scale urban design and land use policies and practices to increase physical activity; street-scale urban design and land use policies to increase physical activity; and transportation and travel policies and practices.
- These systematic reviews were based on the methods of the independent Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Exposure variables were classified according to the types of infrastructures/policies present in each study. Measures of physical activity behavior were used to assess effectiveness.
- Two interventions were effective in promoting physical activity (community-scale and street-scale urban design and land use policies and practices). Additional information about applicability, other effects, and barriers to implementation are provided for these interventions. Evidence is insufficient to assess transportation policy and practices to promote physical activity.
- Because community- and street-scale urban design and land-use policies and practices met the Community Guide criteria for being effective physical activity interventions, implementing these policies and practices at the community-level should be a priority of public health practitioners and community decision makers
Heath, G. W., R. C. Brownson, et al. (2006). The Effectiveness of Urban Design and Land Use and Transport Policies and Practices to Increase Physical Activity: A Systematic Review. Journal of Physical Activity and Health 3(Suppl 1):S55–76.
- This study reports the results of surveys given to caregivers of children in grades three to five from ten California Safe Routes to School communities on their child’s normal travel mode to school as well as factors that determined choice of travel mode.
- Over 50% of the respondents live within one mile of school, yet only 21% percent of caregivers report walking and bicycling as the normal travel mode to school. 69% of caretakers report traveling to school by automobile.
- Based on caregiver responses, 59% of children are typically escorted by mothers to school while only 13% indicate fathers as the normal escort to school.
- The odds of walking and bicycling to school are 40% lower in girls than in boys.
- This relationship is significantly moderated by the caregiver’s own walking behavior.
- Although data from this study may not be generalizable, the implications from this study are important because they suggest that programs that focus on increasing children’s active travel to school should consider multiple influences on health behavior including the physical activity of parents.
McMillan, Tracy, Day, Kristen, Boarnet, Marlon, Alfonzo, Mariela and Anderson, Craig. “Johnny Walks to School - Does Jane? Sex Differences in Children’s Active Travel to School.” Children, Youth and Environments. 16.1 (2006): 75-89.
- This study uses an accelerometer and questions describing travel habits to evaluate physical activity levels among primary school children.
- Results reveal that children who walk to school are significantly more physically active than those who travel by car.
- Children who cycle to school record higher accelerometer counts than those who travel by car.
Cooper, Ashley R., Anderse, Lars Bo, Wedderkopp, Niels, Page, Angie S., and Frober, Karsten. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 29.3 (2005): 170-184.
- This study reports that students who walk both ways accrue the most minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA).
- 90% of the students that walk one way accumulate an average of 60 or more minutes of MVPA on weekdays.
- 100% of the students that walked both ways accumulate an average of 60 or more minutes of MVPA on weekdays.
Alexander, Leslie M., Inchley, Jo, Todd, Joanna, Currie, Dorothy, Cooper, Ashley R. and Currie, Candace. “The Broader Impact of Walking to School Among Adolescents: Seven Day Accelerometry Based Study”. British Medical Journal. 331 (2005): 1061-1062.
- This study evaluates and assesses 10 Safe Routes to School traffic improvement projects in terms of expected outcomes for pedestrian and bicycle safety as well as for amount of walking.
- Upon the completion of thorough data collection and analysis, this study recommends considering the following when planning and funding projects:
- Projects that fill sidewalk gaps near schools with moderate to high amounts of walking should be supported.
- Supported projects should include traffic control devices to regulate yielding at intersections where large volumes of vehicle and pedestrian traffic intersect.
- Construction funding alone may be insufficient for schools with low levels of walking or bicycle travel. Implementation of Safe Routes to School may be more effective if construction is coupled with education campaigns to encourage students to walk or bicycle to school.
- Schools should be encouraged to leverage funds for traffic improvements by providing education that encourages students to walk and bicycle safely to and from school.
Boarnet, Marlon G., Day, Kristen, Anderson, Craig L., McMillan, Tracy and Alfonso, Mariela. “California’s Safe Routes to School Program: Impacts on Walking, Bicycling, and Pedestrian Safety.” Journal of the American Planning Association. 71.12 (2005): 301-317.
- This study evaluates the California Safe Routes to School legislation which provides funds for construction projects such as sidewalks, traffic lights, pedestrian crossing improvements, and bicycle paths. The focal point of evaluation is the relationship between urban form changes and walking and bicycle travel to school.
- Results show that children who pass completed Safe Routes to School projects are more likely to show increases in walking or bicycle travel than are children who do not pass by projects (15% vs. 4%), supporting the effectiveness of Safe Routes to School construction projects in increasing walking or bicycling to school for children who would pass these projects on their way to school.
Boarnet, Marlon G., Anderson, Craig L., Day, Kristen, McMillan, Tracy and Alfonzo, Mariela. “Evaluation of the California Safe Routes to School Legislation: Urban Form Changes and Children’s Active Transportation to School.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 28.2.2 (2005): 134-140.
- To prevent obesity, the physical activity of youth should be increased. Since time for school physical education has declined and curricular interventions have had limited effects, alternative non-curriculum approaches need to be tested.
- A systematic review was conducted to identify research that evaluated the effectiveness of non-curricular interventions on the physical activity of children and adolescents.
- Results showed that children were active during school break periods and inexpensive interventions further increased activity during these times. Active travel to school offered potential, but its effectiveness was impaired by traffic congestion and parental fears for child safety. Extracurricular, school-based interventions had problems with low attendance, which might be removed if delivered through existing community organizations. Summer day camps offered potential for increasing activity of youth, but research is required to determine how best to convert camp activity into increased post-camp habitual activity.
- Physical activity can be increased during school break periods, through existing youth organizations, summer day camps, and possibly through active transportation. Future research should focus on further enhancing the effectiveness of these innovative interventions.
Jago, R., Baranowski, T. (2004). Non-Curricular Approaches for Increasing Physical Activity in Youth: A Review. Preventive Medicine 39(1):157–163.
- Using objective measurement to investigate the physical activity patterns of children by mode of travel to school, this study reports that children who walk to school are significantly more active than those who travel by car.
- A valuable implication of this study is that active transport may contribute to increased physical activity, supporting walk-to-school initiatives to increase children’s physical activity.
Cooper, Ashley R., Page, Angie S., Foster, Lucy J. and Qahwaji, Dina. “Commuting to School: Are Children Who Walk More Physically Active?” American Journal of Preventative Medicine. 25.4 (2003): 273-276.
- This study examines the relationship between the number of people walking or bicycling and the frequency of collisions between motorists and walkers or bicyclists.
- Results report that the likelihood that a person walking or bicycling will be hit by a motorist varies inversely with the amount of bicycling or walking. This pattern is consistent across communities of varying size, varying cities and countries and across time periods.
- A motorist is less likely to collide with a person walking and bicycling if more people walk or bicycle.
- An individual’s risk while walking in a community with twice as much walking will reduce to 66%.
- This implies that policies increasing the number of people walking and bicycling appear to be an effective route to improve the safely of people walking and bicycling.
Jacobsen, Peter Lyndon. “Safety in Numbers: More Walkers and Bicyclists, Safer Walking and Bicycling.” Injury Prevention. 9.3 (2003):205-209.
- This review of the success of the Safe Routes to School program in Marin County reports an increase in walking and biking to school.
- Student transportation surveys report a 64% increase in the number of children walking to school, a 114% increase in the number of students biking, and a 91% increase in the number of students carpooling.
Staunton, Catherine E., Hubsmith, Deborah and Kallins, Wendi. “Promoting Safe Walking and Biking to School: The Marin County Success Story”. American Journal of Public Health. 93.9 (2003):1431-1434.
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