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Andrea Ramirez Varela, Michael Pratt, Kenneth Powell, I-Min Lee, Adrian Bauman, Gregory Heath, Rafaela Costa Martins, Harold Kohl and Pedro C. Hallal

Background:

The Global Observatory for Physical Activity (GoPA!) was launched in response to the physical inactivity pandemic. The aim of this article is to present current information about surveillance, policy, and research on physical activity (PA) and health worldwide.

Methods:

Information was collected for 217 countries. For 139 of these nations we identified a contact who confirmed information’s accuracy and completeness. Associations were calculated among surveillance, policy and research categories.

Results:

Of the 139 countries, 90.6% reported having completed 1 or more PA survey, but less than one-third had 3 or more. 106 included PA on a national plan, but only one-quarter of these were PA-specific. At least 1 peer reviewed publication was identified for 63.3% of the countries. Positive associations (P < .001) were found between research and policy (ρ = 0.35), research and surveillance (ρ = 0.41), and surveillance and policy (ρ = 0.31). Countries with a standalone plan were more likely to have surveillance. Countries with more research were more likely to have a standalone plan and surveillance.

Conclusions:

Surveillance, policy, and research indicators were positively correlated, suggesting that action at multiple levels tends to stimulate progress in other areas. Efforts to expand PA-related surveillance, policy, and research in lower income countries are needed.

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Genevieve F. Dunton, Michael Cousineau and Kim D. Reynolds

Background:

Policy strategies aimed at modifying aspects of the social, physical, economic, and educational environments have been proposed as potential solutions to the growing problem of physical inactivity. To develop effective physical activity policies in these and other areas, greater understanding of how and why policies successfully impact behavior change is needed.

Methods:

The current paper proposes a conceptual framework explaining how policy strategies map onto health behavior theoretical variables and processes thought to lead to physical activity change. This framework is used to make hypotheses about the potential effectiveness of different policy strategies.

Results:

Health behavior theories suggest that policies providing information may be particularly useful for individuals who are not yet considering or have only recently begun to consider becoming more physically active. Policies that provide opportunities may be less effective for individuals who do not find physical activity to be inherently fun and interesting. Policies that offer incentives or require the behavior may not be particularly useful at promoting long-term changes in physical activity.

Conclusion:

Exploring possible connections between policy strategies and theoretical constructs can help to clarify how each approach might work and for whom it may be the most appropriate to implement.

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Erin Holt, Todd Bartee and Kate Heelan

Background:

Implementing physical activity (PA) within academic curricula increases energy expenditure and enhances academic achievement in elementary students. The purposes of the study were to determine the extent teachers met the 20-minute PA policy, identify how teachers met the policy, and measure the level of intensity of PA provided.

Methods:

Four elementary schools (grades K−5; 68 classroom teachers) implemented a district-mandated 20-minute PA policy. Teachers recorded PA for 1 week in September 2010 and February 2011. A sample of 142 students (grades K−5) wore accelerometers to measure school day PA.

Results:

While 40% and 4% of teachers in September and February respectively met the policy all 5 days, 72.5% and 45.7% of teachers in September and February respectively implemented PA at least 3 days/week. Accelerometry results indicated curriculum-based lessons (CBL; 59.92 ± 20.38 min) or walk/run periods (51.56 ± 18.67 min) significantly increased school day MVPA (P < .05) above no additional activity (30.96 ± 22.57 min).

Conclusions:

Although the teachers did not meet the 20-minute policy every day, the increased amount of PA achieved each week through the teachers’ efforts is a significant contributor to total daily PA levels of children.

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Katherine A. Stamatakis, Timothy D. McBride and Ross C. Brownson

Background:

While effective interventions to promote physical activity have been identified, efforts to translate these interventions into policy have lagged behind. To improve the translation of evidence into policy, researchers and public health practitioners need to consider new ways for communicating health promoting messages to state and local policymakers.

Methods:

In this article, we describe issues related to the translation of evidence supporting physical activity promotion, and offer some communication approaches and tools that are likely to be beneficial in translating research to policy.

Results:

We discuss the use of narrative (ie, stories) and describe its potential role in improving communication of research in policy-making settings. In addition, we provide an outline for the development and design of policy briefs on physical activity, and for how to target these briefs effectively to policy-oriented audiences.

Conclusions:

Improvements in researchers' and practitioners' abilities to translate the evidence they generate into high-quality materials for policy makers can greatly enhance efforts to enact policies that promote physical activity.

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Gregory W. Heath, Ross C. Brownson, Judy Kruger, Rebecca Miles, Kenneth E. Powell, Leigh T. Ramsey and the Task Force on Community Preventive Services

Background:

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.

Methods:

We 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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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.

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Susan A. Carlson, Roxanna Guide, Thomas L. Schmid, Latetia V. Moore, Danielle T. Barradas and Janet E. Fulton

Background:

Street-scale urban design policies are recommended to increase physical activity in communities. Our purpose was to examine U.S. public support for local street-scale urban design features and policies.

Methods:

Analysis is based on a cross-sectional national sample of adults (n = 4682) participating in the 2006 HealthStyles mail survey.

Results:

About 57% of adults rated local street-scale urban design as highly important in determining the amount of physical activity they obtain. Adjusted odds of rating neighborhood features as having high importance were higher in people aged ≥65 years versus those <65 and minority racial/ethnic groups versus non-Hispanic whites. Two-thirds of adults were willing to take civic action to support local street-scale urban design policy. Adjusted odds of being willing to take any action versus none was higher in non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics versus non-Hispanic whites, was higher in those with household incomes ≥$60,000 versus ≤$15,000 per year, and increased as education and perceived importance of neighborhood features increased.

Conclusions:

There are high levels of public support for local street-scale urban design policies; however, demographic differences exist in the level of support. These differences are important considerations for policymakers and for those designing community programs targeting street-scale urban design features and policies.

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Tom Kane

September 2017, the Commission defined evidence as aggregate-level data produced by “statistical activities” with a “statistical purpose” that is potentially useful for evaluating government programs and policies and evidence-based policies as the application of evidence to inform decisions in

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Kathy J. Spangler and Linda L. Caldwell

A collaborative framework that influences the promotion of policy related to physical activity should include parks and recreation as well as public health practitioners and researchers. As governments at all levels become increasingly focused on the impact of public resources, park and recreation agencies are challenged to document and demonstrate the impact of leisure services. Public policy associated with parks and recreation is driven by public interest and is often debated in the absence of relevant research to demonstrate the determinants and correlates of parks and recreation to address prevailing social conditions. This paper describes current policy and funding issues faced by public parks and recreation professionals responding to increasing physically active leisure across the lifespan of Americans. We also discuss how a collaborative framework approach can be used to inform public policy designed to increase the physical activity of the American public.

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Douglas J. Casa, Yuri Hosokawa, Luke N. Belval, William M. Adams and Rebecca L. Stearns

Exertional heat stroke (EHS) is among the leading causes of sudden death during sport and physical activity. However, previous research has shown that EHS is 100% survivable when rapidly recognized and appropriate treatment is provided. Establishing policies to address issues related to the prevention and treatment of EHS, including heat acclimatization, environment-based activity modification, body temperature assessment using rectal thermometry, and immediate, onsite treatment using cold-water immersion attenuates the risk of EHS mortality and morbidity. This article provides an overview of the current evidence regarding EHS prevention and management. The transfer of scientific knowledge to clinical practice has shown great success for saving EHS patients. Further efforts are needed to implement evidence-based policies to not only mitigate EHS fatality but also to reduce the overall incidence of EHS.

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Anna E. Mathews, Delores Pluto, Olga Ogoussan and Jorge Banda

Background:

When promoting active travel to school, it is important to consider school and district policies as well as attitudes of school and district administrators.

Methods:

School principals and district officials in South Carolina participated in the School Travel Survey. Frequency distributions and Chi-squared tests were used to analyze the data.

Results:

Three hundred fourteen persons responded to the survey (53.2% response rate). Sixty-five percent of district officials reported having a clear position about students walking to school, 80.0% of which were supportive. Seventy-two percent of principals reported having a clear position about walking to school, 67% of which were supportive. These positions were most commonly communicated either orally or through memos or other written documentation rather than through official, written policies or directives. Respondents who personally supported walking to school were more likely to believe that walking to school benefited students' health (χ2 = 8.82, df = 1, P = .003) and academic performance (χ2 = 14.87, df = 1, P < .0001).

Conclusions:

Promotion of walking to school should encourage schools and districts to develop official, written directives or policies. Promotional efforts may benefit from linking active travel to academic performance and health.