The health-enhancing benefits of regular physical activity have been theorized for thousands of years. Within the past 25 years, public health agencies, health-related organizations, and health-focused foundations have recognized regular physical activity as a major factor in preventing premature morbidity and mortality. Colleges and universities have experienced a paradigm shift in applying public health strategies to prepare graduates in understanding how to reduce the impact of sedentary lifestyles on health outcomes. For nearly 20 years, some kinesiology departments have expanded from traditional curricula to new courses and degrees in promoting physical activity in the community, the application of epidemiology concepts to physical activity, and the study of policy and environmental approaches to promoting physical activity. Given the high prevalence of physical activity insufficient to prevent premature morbidity and mortality, continuing educational efforts are needed to assure kinesiology students have the skills and information needed to promote physical activity in communities to people of all ages and abilities.
Barbara E. Ainsworth and Steven P. Hooker
Christine Kimber, Eydie Abercrombie, Jacqueline N. Epping, LeeAnn Mordecai, Jimmy Newkirk Jr. and Michael Ray
Physical activity has emerged as a distinct area of public health practice. As this field evolved, the need for a professional organization for physical activity practitioners in public health became evident. A collaboration of several existing public health professional organizations formed to address this new area of public health practice. The collaboration laid the foundation to establish a professional organization. National Association of Physical Activity Practitioners in Public Health (NSPAPPH) was launched in April 2006. NSPAPPH accomplishments to date include convening a national meeting of physical activity practitioners, conducting strategic planning, adopting bylaws and core competencies for professional practice, developing a website and electronic newsletter, and establishing training opportunities for practitioners.
Future plans for NSPAPPH include development of a professional certification for physical activity practitioners in public health; enhancement of training and professional development opportunities; recruitment of members from national, tribal, state, and local organizations working in public and private sectors; publications of journal articles, reports, and issue briefs; and development of a policy agenda. Implementing these plans will serve to strengthen public health infrastructure for physical activity, thus improving the physical activity behaviors of Americans and the health of the nation.
Peter W. Grandjean, Burritt W. Hess, Nicholas Schwedock, Jackson O. Griggs and Paul M. Gordon
Kinesiology programs are well positioned to create and develop partnerships within the university, with local health care providers, and with the community to integrate and enhance the activities of professional training, community service, public health outreach, and collaborative research. Partnerships with medical and health care organizations may be structured to fulfill accreditation standards and the objectives of the “Exercise is Medicine®” initiative to improve public health through primary prevention. Barriers of scale, location, time, human resources, and funding can be overcome so all stakeholder benefits are much greater than the costs.
Amber Dallman, Eydie Abercrombie, Rebecca Drewette-Card, Maya Mohan, Michael Ray and Brian Ritacco
Physical activity has emerged as a vital area of public health. This emerging area of public health practice has created a need to develop practitioners who can address physical activity promotion using population-based approaches. Variations in physical activity practitioners' educations and backgrounds warranted the creation of minimal standards to establish the competencies needed to address physical activity as a public health priority.
The content knowledge of physical activity practitioners tends to fall into 2 separate areas—population-based community health education and individually focused exercise physiology. Competencies reflect the importance of a comprehensive approach to physical activity promotion, including areas of community health while also understanding the physiologic responses occurring at the individual level.
Competencies are organized under the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's 5 benchmarks for physical activity and public health practice.
The greatest impact on physical activity levels may be realized from a well-trained workforce of practitioners. Utilization of the competencies will enable the physical activity practitioner to provide technical assistance and leadership to promote, implement, and oversee evaluation of physical activity interventions.
John Librett, Karla Henderson, Geoffrey Godbey and James R. Morrow Jr.
The purpose of parks and recreation as well as public health is to seek the highest possible quality of life for individuals and communities. Unfortunately, little discourse has occurred between the parks and recreation and public health professions. This missed opportunity has resulted in an incomplete understanding of the spectrum of issues shared by the fields, a slow transdisciplinary learning curve, and a dearth of knowledge-based linkages between science and practice. The goal of the 2006 Cooper Institute Conference on Parks, Recreation, and Public Health: Collaborative Frameworks for Promoting Physical Activity was to highlight opportunities and advance cooperation between parks, recreation, and public health researchers and practitioners that result in collaborations that influence public health decisions at the macro (agency) and micro (individual) levels. This article introduces the discussion on scientific and practice issues in parks, recreation, and public health. By establishing a baseline of frameworks for strengthening collaboration we hope to improve the health and quality of life through parks and recreation-based physical activity.
Kim Bergeron and Lucie Lévesque
Community design can have a positive or negative influence on the physical activity level of residents. The complementary expertise of professionals from both planning and public health is needed to build active communities. The current study aimed to develop a coordinated framework for planners and public health professionals to enhance the design of active communities.
Planners and public health professionals working in Ontario, Canada were recruited to participate in a concept mapping process to identify ways they should work together to enhance the design of active communities.
This process generated 72 actions that represent collaborative efforts planners and public health professionals should engage in when designing active communities. These actions were then organized by importance and feasibility. This resulted in a coordinated action framework that includes 19 proximal and 6 distal coordinated actions for planners and public health professionals.
Implementation of the recommended actions has the potential to make a difference in community design as a way to enhance physical activity in community members. This Coordinated Action Framework provides a way to address physical inactivity from an environmental and policy standpoint.
Barbara E. Ainsworth, Roger C. Mannell, Timothy K. Behrens and Linda L. Caldwell
Public health has historically been concerned with eliminating factors associated with disease, disability, and early mortality, whereas leisure studies has emerged from the need to create and manage recreational opportunities and promote leisure activities and experiences. Coincidently, both fields have progressed toward an appreciation of the role of active leisure in enhancing a population’s health and well-being. Factors associated with making choices to be physically active in leisure time are complex and multidimensional. This paper provides historical perspectives from public health and leisure studies (i.e., parks and recreation), describes models used to understand physically active leisure from both fields, and suggests direction for future collaborative research between public health and parks, recreation, and leisure researchers.
Olga Sarmiento, Andrea Torres, Enrique Jacoby, Michael Pratt, Thomas L. Schmid and Gonzalo Stierling
The Ciclovía-Recreativa is a free, community-based program in which streets are closed temporarily to motorized transport, allowing access to walkers, runners, rollerbladers, and cyclists only. We assessed existing information about the Ciclovía as a public health strategy and proposed next steps for research and public health practice.
We conducted a systematic search of peer-reviewed and other literature, which was complemented by expert interviews and consultation.
We reviewed 38 Ciclovías from 11 countries. Most programs (84.2%) take place in urban settings. The programs range from 18−64 events per year (54 ± 24.6; 52 [mean ± standard deviation; median]) with events lasting from 2−12 hours (6 ± 2.4; 6). The length of the streets ranges from 1−121 km (14.6 ± 22.1; 7), and the estimated number of participants per event ranges from 60-1,000,000 persons (61,203 ± 186,668; 3810). Seventy-one percent of the programs include physical activity classes and in 89% of the Ciclovías, the streets are connected with parks.
Ciclovías have potential for positive public health outcomes, but evidence on their effectiveness is limited. The different stages of new and established programs offer a unique opportunity for transnational studies aimed at assessing their public health impact.
David A. Dzewaltowski, Mary McElroy, Timothy I. Musch, David C. Poole and Craig A. Harms
Kinesiology is an academic discipline with a body of content that can be drawn on to support professions and to solve important public health problems. The Kansas State Physical Activity Systems Framework defines a new approach to structure the discipline. Central to the framework is the rejection of a kinesiology subdisciplinary approach and the adoption of an integrated “cell-to-society” systems approach. Each level of physical activity systems is addressed in undergraduate and graduate education and research. Supporting the framework are two research and education teams: exercise physiology and exercise behavioral science. These teams provide core integrated academic discipline content expertise and expertise for integrating professional application areas, such as public health. The framework has evolved over 20 years at Kansas State University, where today the Department of Kinesiology delivers high-quality extramurally-funded research; BS, MS, MPH, and PhD programs; and outreach in a cost-effective manner.
Kelly R. Evenson, Joan M. Dorn, Ricky Camplain, Russell R. Pate and David R. Brown
From 1995–2013, an 8-day Physical Activity and Public Health Course for Researchers has been offered yearly in the United States.
In 2013, an evaluation quantified time that fellows spent in different course offerings, surveyed fellows on course impact, documented grant funding, and identified fellow participation on leading physical activity-related journals.
The number of fellows that attended the course ranged from 20 per year to 35 per year. Fellows who participated in the web survey (n = 322) agreed that the course: met their expectations (99%), had a positive impact on the physical activity research or practice work they did (98%), and helped increase their professional networking in the field (93%). Following the course, 73% of fellows had further contact with course faculty and 71% had further contact with other fellows. From the National Institutes of Health, 117 grants were awarded to 82 fellows (21% of eligible fellows). Out of 14 journals reviewed, 11 had at least 1 fellow on their staff as editor, associate editor, or editorial board member.
The Physical Activity and Public Health Course for Researchers helps address a training need by providing instruction and building capacity in the US and abroad for conducting research on physical activity and public health.