Issue 22, January 2014

Issue 22, January 2014

Active Living Research News

ALR Conference

Early Bird Registration Extended

The early bird registration deadline has been extended for ALR 2014. This year’s conference theme, “Niche to Norm,” recognizes the importance of advancing active living from an emerging field to one that regularly guides decision-making across sectors to create more active communities. We look forward to seeing you March 9 to 12 in San Diego.

ALR Resources

Papers from 2013 ALR Conference

A special issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion features papers from the 2013 ALR conference. Full text articles can be accessed via this commentary in our MOVE! blog by Christina Economos, who co-chaired the 2013 conference. Study topics include parks, neighborhoods, childcare, worksites and schools, and address a variety of strategies to increase physical activity, including policies, legislation and reforms. There are also "practice briefs" highlighting specific programs such as out-of-school time and neighborhood environments like streets.

Highlights from Active Living Research’s First Decade

Two new papers in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine report progress across ALR’s first ten years. The paper by Sallis JF, et al reflects on the program’s evolution, with details on organizational achievements and processes. The second paper (forthcoming), by Barker DC and Gutman MA, reports findings from an external evaluation. Highlights include how ALR pioneered a new field by producing hundreds of publications, building a national and international network of active living advocates, and informing policy impacts across multiple sectors.

How to Support State Compliance with PE Laws

A new policy brief by ALR and Salud America! grantee Emma Sanchez shows that in California, a low compliance level with physical education (PE) mandates is associated with lower physical fitness levels in students. The brief includes recommendations on how to increase PE participation in all schools, including recognizing physical activity and fitness as a pathway to academic achievement.

RALA Tools Benefiting More Rural Communities

Rural Active Living Assessment (RALA) is a set of tools tailored for use in rural environments to assess the features and amenities, town characteristics, community programs, and policies that can affect physical activity. In the last couple of years, RALA has experienced an upsurge in interest in both the US and Canada. For example, 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. Also, Maine’s Bicycle Coalition is adding a bikeability component to RALA. And in Canada, CLASP (Coalitions Linking Action and Science for Promotion across Canada) is using RALA.

Why Parks are Important for our Health

The Trust for Public Land, with support from ALR, produced a new suite of tools for communicating the critical importance parks play in our wellness. The tools include a brochure and video entitled Eight Ways That Parks Improve Your Health.

Grantee Publications

Playgrounds where African-American Kids are Most Active

A study by Jack Nasar provides insight into what playground characteristics are preferred by African American children and their parents and what types of playground settings were related to higher levels of children’s physical activity. Using a methodology that involved having children and parents sort through photographs of playgrounds along with observing children’s playground activities, Nasar found participants were more likely to pick playgrounds with equipment and playgrounds with a softer surface. Also, children had higher levels of physical activity in settings with playground equipment.

American Heart Association Advocates for the Shared Use of Recreational Facilities

In this article, John Spengler discusses how the American Heart Association (AHA) developed its strategy for advocating the shared use of school grounds for physical activity. Shared use of schools allows children and adults to use school grounds outside of school time and is an important way to increase physical activity. Sharing facilities between schools and a third party often requires a contract, typically known as a shared use agreement. The AHA developed six points of advocacy to help encourage schools to develop shared use agreements. Of particular importance is the recommendation that state legislation provide liability protection to schools. This is because research shows fear of liability for injuries occurring on school grounds is one of the main reasons why school administrators do not want to enter into shared use agreements.

What Prevents Children from Playing Outside?

John Worobey explored which factors were perceived by children as being the most important barriers to their playing outside during summer. A survey of 281 children ages 6-14 years found that boys rated bad weather, lack of street lights, and fear of crime/gangs as the three most important barriers. Among girls, fear of crime/gangs, fear of strangers, and bad weather ranked as the biggest barriers. The author concluded that allowing access to school gymnasiums during summer could be an effective way to increase children’s physical activity.

Announcements and Other Resources

Bike Lanes are Good for Business

A report from People for Bikes and the Alliance for Biking and Walking explains how protected bike lanes — on-street lanes that are physically separated from automobile traffic by curbs, planters, parked cars or posts — has meant big benefits for businesses.

Determining the Cost of Bicycling Facilities

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) will be hosting a free webinar, Countermeasure Costs: Putting a price on pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure on January 22 at 2 to 3:30pm Eastern Time. The webinar will provide an overview of the cost for installing a variety of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and facilities. Presenters will include Charlie Zegeer, author of an ALR report that summarizes up-to-date cost information from states and cities across the country.

Safe Routes to School National Learning Network Library

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has a Library of Resources for physical activity, health and the built environment. Resources include policy reports, case studies, and research briefs. The database welcomes users to suggest documents to add.

Matrix Helps You Navigate through State School Health Policies

The State School Health Policy Matrix is a guide to state-level school health policies related to: competitive foods and beverages, physical education and physical activity, and administration of medication in the school environment. Register for the related webinar, "Keys for Understanding State Level School Health Policies" scheduled for January 30 at 1:00pm Eastern Time to learn more about how school health policy works, and how the Matrix can be used by policy advocates.

Key to the Streets - A Tool for Improving Street Design

Using this app, anyone with an internet connection and mobile device can contribute to urban design and city planning to improve the safety and walkability of their streets.

Funding Opportunities

National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) has compiled a summary table of funding opportunities related to obesity prevention, Grant proposal deadlines vary.


There is still time to register for the 13th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, scheduled for February 13-15 in Denver. Learn from hundreds of speakers who cross disciplines to share insights, valuable tools and strategies for making smart growth a success in your community. The program will be infused with sessions and case studies focusing on important social equity and environmental justice issues. Registration ends January 21.

The 13th International Congress of the Society of Behavioral Medicine (ICSBM) will be held August 20 to 23 in Groningen, The Netherlands. Dr. Sallis will highlight results from the International Physical Activity and Environment Network (IPEN). The deadline to submit abstracts for presentation is January 22, and May 1 is the last day to receive the early bird registration discount.

Sponsored by Active Healthy Kids Canada, the 2014 Global Summit on the Physical Activity of Children will convene leading researchers, practitioners, and advocates to address the growing childhood physical inactivity crisis. The 2014 summit, which will take place May 19-22 in Toronto, Canada, will feature two debates— one on the potential or pitfalls of active video games, and another on the importance of increasing physical activity versus decreasing television watching and other sedentary behaviors. Save $100 if you register by January 31.

Newsletter Date: 
Thursday, January 16, 2014