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Stephen Harvey, Chris Rissel and Mirjam Pijnappels

Falls among older adults remain a significant public health issue. Bicycling positively influences falls risk factors including reduced balance, muscle weakness, and low self-perceived confidence in maintaining balance. However, this association has not been systematically examined. We recruited 107 community-dwelling participants aged 65 years and older in the Netherlands to determine the relationship between bicycling and falls risk factors. Participants completed three questionnaires on cycling behavior and balance confidence, and also undertook five falls-related physical performance tasks encompassing tests of balance, strength, gait, and endurance. On average, current bicyclists showed significantly better scores in all physical tasks and confidence compared with nonriders ranging from a 10% difference in 6-m walk time to a 141% difference in single-leg balance time (all ps = .01). Type of bike used and duration of bicycling displayed varied associations (.01 < ps < .79). Our findings suggest that bicycle riding warrants further prospective investigation for fall prevention and active aging.

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Chris Rissel, Dafna Merom, Adrian Bauman, Jan Garrard, Li Ming Wen and Carolyn New

Background:

Encouraging cycling could increase levels of physical activity and health in the community. A population survey of cycling and physical activity was conducted as part of the baseline evaluation of a new intervention research project (Cycling Connecting Communities).

Methods:

A telephone survey of adults (18+) living within 2 kilometers of selected major new bicycle paths in 3 local government areas in south western Sydney, Australia was conducted using a 2-stage sampling method. Multiple logistic regression analyses examined factors associated with riding in the last year, wanting to cycle more, and use of local bicycle paths.

Results:

With a 65% response rate, 1450 interviews were completed. Having ridden a bicycle in the past year was associated with younger age, being male, having access to a bicycle, and living close to destinations of interest. Two thirds of respondents (65%) wanted to ride more than they currently did. Factors associated with wanting to ride more were having children aged between 5−18 years, having used local bicycle paths, and perceptions of ease of cycling.

Conclusions:

The study found that there is a latent desire for more cycling among respondents, prompted to some extent by having children of an age (5−18 years) that like cycling, and having a reasonable opportunity to cycle due to local bicycle paths. Being relatively close to destinations of interest increases the likelihood of recent cycling.

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Li Ming Wen, Hidde P. van der Ploeg, James Kite, Aaron Cashmore and Chris Rissel

Assessing young children’s physical activity and sedentary behavior can be challenging and costly. This study aimed to assess the validity of a brief survey about activity preferences as a proxy of physical activity and of a 7-day activity diary, both completed by the parents and using accelerometers as a reference measure. Thirty-four parents and their children (aged 3–5 years) who attended childcare centers in Sydney (Australia) were recruited for the study. Parents were asked to complete a 9-item brief survey about activity preferences of their child and a 7-day diary recording the child’s physical activity and sedentary behaviors. Both measures were compared with accelerometer data collected from the child over the same period as the diary survey. The findings suggest that parent completed diaries have acceptable correlation coefficients with accelerometer measures and could be considered in future research assessing physical activity and sedentary behavior of children aged 3–5 years.