QUARTER 1: January - March 2023 | USC-PRC Notes

"Promoting Health through Physical Activity"

Topics in this issue



  • Update from the USC PRC Core Research Project
  • Update from the USC PRC
  • Update from the South Carolina Cancer Prevention and Control Research
    Network II


  • New Signage Program Celebrates History Along the Great American Rail-Trail
  • Podcast: Advancing Physical Activity and Health Equity Through Active Parks


  • April, May, June


  • Federal Safe Streets and Roads for All Program Grantees


  • Playground Design & Physical Activity
  • Associations of Timing of Physical Activity with All-cause and Cause-specific
    Mortality in a Prospective Cohort Study
  • Effects of a Family-based Lifestyle Intervention on Co-physical Activity and Other
    Health-related Outcomes of Fathers and Their Children: The ‘Run Daddy Run’
  • Data of Worldwide Observational Studies of Adults with Accelerometry-measured
    Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior


  • WHO Report: Physical Activity-Related Savings in the EU
  • Prevalence of Adults Meeting PA Guidelines in the US
  • Foot Traffic Ahead 2023


  • Youth Fitness Campaign Launches in Iowa
  • Decriminalizing Walking in Denver, CO
  • Henrico County Moves Forward with plans for 99-Acre Park in Sandston
  • Walk Kansas Offers the Opportunity to Enjoy Being Healthier


  • April, May, June



Spring is in the air!  During Spring, we often prepare for the future – it brings a certain level of anticipation and excitement. Spring always reminds me that key treasures in life are often the simple things…the tree buds…the first sprouting of flowers…the lengthening days of light…the warmth and the sun…the opportunity to move your body in nature.  I hope that you take a moment to pause and reflect on these simple but important treasures.

In February, I was honored to give the Keynote Address at the Southeastern American College of Sports Medicine annual conference. I focused on a topic that is near and dear to my heart – designing programs so that they can be scaled up and reach communities. As I was preparing for the presentation, I was digging through my computer files, and I came across a folder called “Job Applications.”  Hmmmm…  In it, I found a folder called “USC.”  Hmmmm…  I read the research statement that I wrote nearly 25 years ago.  When I wrote that statement, I had a lot of doubt – could I really “make it” in academia?  But I tried to muster up confidence and describe what I was truly passionate about. And, in fact, I’m doing much of what I wrote about. As I read this old research statement, I reflected on how I’ve generally tried to follow my heart in my work, and how my heart has led me where I want to go and has brought me meaning. I shared during my talk, which had a high proportion of student attendees, the need to follow your heart and to thank those who have helped you along the way. So thank you to Kris Anderson (Northwestern), Martha Storandt (Washington University), Abby King (Stanford), Barb Ainsworth (who was at USC when I started), and Russ Pate (USC) for giving me support, encouragement, and tangible opportunities during critical times in my life and career.

I wish you all a happy Spring!
-Sara Wilcox


Update from the USC PRC Core Research Project

The USC PRC’s core research project, Faith, Activity, and Nutrition, has met its recruitment goal. The 12-month evaluation of participating churches is underway.

A new publication resulting from the core research project has been published in Translational Behavioral Medicine. The manuscript describes how the USC PRC faculty, staff, and Co-Investigators converted the in-person church committee training to an online format, and how partner feedback was incorporated into this process.

Wilcox, S., Saunders, R. P., Stucker, J., Kaczynski, A. T., Day, K. R., Kinnard, D., Decker, L., & Bernhart, J. A. (2023). A process for converting an in-person training to increase church capacity to implement physical activity and healthy eating practices and policies to an online format. Translational Behavioral Medicine, ibac102. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1093/tbm/ibac102

Updates from the UofSC PRC

USC PRC Director, Dr. Sara Wilcox (FACSM), presented a keynote lecture at the 2023 Southeastern Chapter of American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting. The lecture focused on designing physical activity interventions for scalability and highlighted the PRC’s core research project (FAN) from conception to its present-day national implementation study.

USC PRC faculty, staff, and students participated in PRC Week 2023 Collaborating for Impact: Working to Build a Healthier Tomorrow, hosted virtually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The online meeting brought together research, practice, and community representatives from PRCs across the country for three days of engaging keynote lectures, symposia, special interest group meetings, and research presentations. The USC PRC was represented by second year PhD student, Jasmin Parker-Brown, who delivered a poster presentation entitled “Barriers and Enablers to Implementing a 12-Month Church-Based Physical Activity and Healthy Eating Program.” This preliminary qualitative analysis was done using a sub-sample of data from the FAN national implementation study. It highlighted themes identified from church leaders regarding factors that helped support their church’s’ implementation of FAN or hindered implementation.

USC PRC Director, Dr. Sara Wilcox, was nominated and has agreed to Co-chair the PRC Network's Steering Committee. Her appointment will begin in March of 2023 and continue through September of 2024.

The USC PRC is hosting the 2023 Physical Activity and Public Health Courses this fall. The courses will be held in Columbia, South Carolina and will offer two course tracks for public health researchers and practitioners. The Research course (September 19-26, 2023) aims to build capacity within the physical activity and public health sector by providing post-doctoral researchers with tools to advance their skills in project development and funding. The Practitioner’s course (September 22-26, 2023) will engage public health professionals through concepts in developing and implementing physical activity-based community projects within their own sectors. More information about the PAPH courses is available online. Applications for both the Researcher and Practitioner courses are due June 1st, 2023. For additional information, please contact Dale Murrie at brabhamd@mailbox.sc.edu.

Updates from the USC PRC Special Interest Projects

Dementia Risk Reduction Research Network

The USC Emotion, Cognition, and Health Outcomes (ECHO) Lab is conducting a CDC-funded mindful walking study for local African American older adults. This study will take place at the beautiful SC State House walking trail and on the USC campus across six months. They will investigate if multiple sessions of outdoor mindful walking may sustain mental and cognitive health. If you are interested in participating, please contact us at (484) 895-9788 or uofscslowwalk@gmail.com.

South Carolina Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (SC-CPCRN) II

The SC-CPCRN III Community Health Intervention Program (CHIP) awarded two $10,000 mini grants to community-based organizations in Fairfield County, South Carolina to implement evidence-based programs to improve community health outcomes. Through its “Catch Up” initiative, Trinity Baptist Church and Wellness Ministry is using its grant to provide much needed health screenings to community members who may have missed appointments due to COVID-19. The Upper Midlands Rural Health Network and partners (Fairfield Forward, Wholespire Fairfield County, John A. Martin Primary Health Care Center, and University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center) have focused their mini grant on increasing physical activity among sedentary individuals through a community-wide campaign promoting the use of two walking trails in rural Fairfield County. SC-CPCRN staff recently partnered with awardees to develop a press release. SC-CPCRN staff will provide technical assistance to grantees over the course of the award.  


New Signage Program Celebrates History Along the Great American Rail-Trail

The Rails to Trails Conservancy has announced that it will install historic markers along the 3,700 mile route of the Great American Rail Trail. The Rail Trail, which is still in development, is a cross-country trail that will start in Washington, D.C. and terminate in Washington state. Currently, roughly half of the trail has been completed. The historic markers planned for the trail have been developed in partnership with the Pomeroy Foundation, an organization that develops historic signage with the goal of educating the public. Markers are planned for unique features along the trail, including the last surviving double-arch bridge built in Black Hawk County, Iowa in 1913. The program will place 12 markers initially with plans to expand as trail construction continues.
[Source: Rails to Trails Conservancy]

Podcast: Advancing Physical Activity and Health Equity Through Active Parks

In a recent episode of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) podcast, host Cort Jones spoke with CDC’s lead for the Physical Activity and Health branch, Ken Rose. Rose, who oversees the implementation of efforts to increase physical activity nationwide, discussed the importance of partnerships between public health and parks and recreation departments. The NPRA developed the Active Parks! Implementation Guide to assist park and recreation and public health professionals in advancing the Active Parks! Increasing Physical Activity Through Parks, Trails, and Greenways recommendations and support for the CDC’s Active People, Healthy Nation initiative. The podcast also covers the origins of the Active Parks! Implementation Guide, considerations for those looking to use the guide in their communities, the possible impact of the guide, and how park and recreation professionals can join in the Active People, Healthy Nation initiative. You can listen to the podcast and read the official NRPA blog on their site.
[Source: National Recreation and Park Association]






Federal Safe Streets and Roads for All Program Grantees

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced the grantees for the federally funded Safe Streets and Roads for All program. The program was established as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and aims to fund local projects that promote safety on roadways, particularly pedestrian and cyclist safety. Recently funded grantee projects largely focus on community-led initiatives to separate walk and bike infrastructure from traffic. Many projects also include initiatives to provide equitable access to transportation infrastructure and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through reduced vehicle usage. In total, the program will provide $5 billion over 5 years for safety improvements in communities throughout the country.
[Source: Rails to Trails Conservancy]


Playground Design & Physical Activity

Playgrounds are located in over 80% of parks in urban areas across the U.S. and, as parents tend to accompany children at playgrounds, they hold great potential as physical activity promotion sites for both children and adults. While the design of playgrounds varies, many have traditionally been constructed as static structures that dictate a sequence of play for children. In contrast, innovative playgrounds are typically designed for multiple age groups and contain elements that are moveable in addition to more open-ended play space. Researchers in this study compared 30 innovative playgrounds with 30 traditional playgrounds across the U.S. to determine how design influenced use and physical activity. They used the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities to document users during 19 one-hour observations at each playground. They found that innovative playgrounds attracted 2.5x more users, and that users of innovative playgrounds participated in roughly 3x more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Further, although playgrounds in high-poverty neighborhoods were less frequently used, innovative playgrounds were more used in these areas than traditional playgrounds.
[Cohen, D. A., Talarowski, M. R., Han, B., Williamson, S. L., Galfond, E. C., Young, D. R.,… & McKenzie, T. L. (2023). Playground design and physical activity. American journal of preventive medicine, 64(3), 326-333.]

Associations of Timing of Physical Activity with All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality in a Prospective Cohort Study

Despite varied studies exploring possible associations between time of day participating in physical activity (PA) and metabolic effects, findings remain inconclusive. Though evidence supports that PA at any intensity, rate, and modality is influential in reducing mortality risk, understanding the optimal time of day to engage in PA could be beneficial in better optimizing health benefits and mitigating health risks. This study used data from the UK Biobank, including accelerometer data and mortality outcomes over 7 years of follow up among 92,139 participants. The participants were categorized into four timing groups based on the majority timing of their MVPA: Morning, Midday-afternoon, Evening, and a Mixed time period. Analyses were then performed to create a PA timing phenotype. Analyses also explored the influences of age, sex, varying levels of MVPA, CVDs (Cardiovascular Diseases), and obesity to further investigate the associations between timing of PA and all-cause and CVD mortality outcomes. The researchers found that while MVPA at any time of day is associated with reduced mortality risks, individuals in the morning, midday-afternoon, and mixed groups were found to have a lower risk of mortality than those in the evening time group. The effect was especially evident among participants who were less physically active, those with preexisting CVD, and elderly males.
[Feng, H., Yang, L., Liang, Y. Y., Ai, S., Liu, Y., Liu, Y., ... & Zhang, J. (2023). Associations of timing of physical activity with all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a prospective cohort study. Nature Communications, 14(1), 1-10.]

Effects of a Family-Led Lifestyle Intervention on Co-Physical Activity and Other Health-Related Outcomes of Fathers and Their Children: The ‘Run Daddy Run’ Intervention

Parents are important in establishing healthy lifestyle behaviors for their children; however, paternal influence is rarely explored in lifestyle behavioral research. This non-randomized control trial utilized 98 father and child dyads to test interactive father-child programming (n=35) in comparison to the control (n=63) over 14 weeks. The intervention program, which promoted physical activity (PA) among fathers and their child, was conducted through six interactive sessions (in-person and online). Both intervention and comparison groups were asked to complete pre-tests, post-tests, and follow up measurements that included PA for father, child, and co-PA through accelerometer data, BMI, and sedentary behavior. The study found that the intervention was able to improve co-PA and reduce sedentary behaviors for intervention dyads and improve PA for intervention fathers and children. The authors concluded that more studies targeting paternal influence in improving PA are still needed to understand this potential intervention strategy.  
[Latomme, J., Morgan, P. J., Chastin, S., Brondeel, R., & Cardon, G. (2023). Effects of a family-based lifestyle intervention on co-physical activity and other health-related outcomes of fathers and their children: the ‘Run Daddy Run’ intervention. BMC Public Health, 23(1), 1-15.]

Data of Worldwide Observational Studies of Adults with Accelerometry-measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior

Accelerometry has become a common means of objectively measuring physical activity, particularly for surveillance and epidemiologic purposes. However, there have been calls for more complete reporting of accelerometry methodology to standardize analyses across studies. Researchers in this study performed a scoping review to identify 155 studies from across the world that used accelerometry to measure physical activity on 500 or more adults. All datasets were summarized and compiled into a single dataset that is searchable, and may be useful for researchers who wish to conduct reviews and meta analyses of accelerometer data. The dataset is available online at the cohort level and at the accelerometer level.
[Evenson, K. R., Scherer, E., Cuthbertson, C. C., Peter-Marske, K. M., Madson, G. J., & Eckman, S. (2023). Data of worldwide observational studies of adults with accelerometry-measured physical activity and sedentary behavior. Data in Brief, 109020.]


WHO Report: Physical Activity-Related Savings in the EU

The World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has released a new report titled, “Step Up! Tackling the Burden of Insufficient Physical Activity in Europe.” The report highlights trends in physical activity across Europe and quantifies the burden of inactivity in terms of the economic cost. The report estimates that increasing physical activity among Europeans could prevent 10,000 premature deaths per year. The report also estimates that increasing physical activity could lead to fewer cases of chronic, non-communicable diseases related to inactivity. Economic modeling by the report authors revealed that expenditures to increase physical activity are warranted, as countries may expect a return of €1.7 in economic benefits for every €1 invested in physical activity promotion. The full report is available online.
[Source: World Health Organization]

Prevalence of Adults Meeting PA Guidelines in the US

In a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report, an analysis of the National Health Interview Survey data was completed to evaluate whether U.S. adults met the Physical Activity Guidelines in 2020. The results show that a low proportion of adults were meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines for leisure-time PA. Disparities were also identified among rural-urban and various regions across the U.S. The report found that adults living in more populated areas and in the Western Census Bureau region of the U.S. were more likely to meet the recommend guidelines than those in less densely populated areas and other regions. With this information, policymakers and stakeholders can help better support the development or implementation of environmental updates, enhanced policies, and/or systems that can better address rural and regional lack of physical activity. The full report can be found on the CDC website.
[Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]

Foot Traffic Ahead 2023

Smart Growth America has published their 2023 version of the Foot Traffic Ahead report, which aims to help policymakers promote equitable walkable development in urban spaces. Despite early predictions that the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to migration away from urban areas, this year’s report found that the majority of large metro areas grew across 2019-2023, particularly with regard to walkable urban development. According to the report, 6.8% of the U.S. population live in walkable urban places that represent just 1.2% of total landmass of the 35 largest metro areas. These areas also comprise over 19% of the real U.S. gross domestic product. The full report is available for download on the Smart Growth America website.
[Source: Smart Growth America]


Youth Fitness Campaign Launches in Iowa

The National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils (NFGFC) has selected Iowa as the 2023 recipient of the Don't Quit Fitness Campaign funds. The funds will enable three selected elementary/middle schools to receive new, state of the art fitness centers for students. Schools across Iowa applied to receive the funds in February and March, and the selected schools will receive the newly constructed fitness centers by the end of the year. The Don’t Quit program has previously delivered fitness centers to 42 states plus the District of Columbia and aims to reach all 50 states within the next few years.
[Source: Carroll Times Herald]

Decriminalizing Walking in Denver, CO

The city council of Denver, Colorado recently voted in favor of decriminalizing jaywalking, or pedestrian street crossings at unmarked points along a road, within the city. Denver joins four other states/municipalities that have decriminalized jaywalking in the past two years. Enforcement of jaywalking laws disproportionately affects pedestrians of color: in Denver, Black pedestrians accounted for 41% of jaywalking citations (and fines), despite making up only 10% of the city population. The elimination of jaywalking laws across the country is an important step in re-framing pedestrian rights and reducing burden on pedestrians to protect themselves from traffic. Despite concerns that legalizing jaywalking would lead to increased fatalities, preliminary data from Virginia (where jaywalking was decriminalized in 2021) show no impacts to pedestrian fatalities or injuries.
[Source: America Walks]

Henrico County Moves Forward with Plans for 99-Acre Park in Sandston

Henrico County, Virginia plans to construct Taylor Farm Park, a 99-acre park, in the Sandston area. The park will include many areas to support physical activity, including a pump track for rolling activities like bikes, scooters, and skateboards. Other phases of construction will build out stretches of walking trails and playgrounds. The park will also include amenities like a splash park, a memorial garden, and park shelters. The park is estimated to cost around $24 million, most of which comes from Henrico’s bond referendum that allocates funds for community support and development. The park is expected to be open by mid 2024.
[Henrico County News]

Walk Kansas Offers the Opportunity to Enjoy Being Healthier

Kansas State University's Research and Extension (KSRE) begins its 23rd annual health initiative, Walk Kansas. The program encourages individuals from the community to form teams, and to be more active and make healthier decisions as a team during the program’s run March 26th through May 20th. Walk Kansas aims to help participants meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans by increasing physical activity. Registration for the annual Walk Kansas program also includes weekly newsletters, an online physical activity tracker, local activities, and access to a webinar series that focuses on learning more about the benefits of Mediterranean-style eating. More information about Walk Kansas and other K-State Research and Extension programs can be found on the Kansas State University website.
[Source: K-State Research and Extension]





Writers: Kelsey Day and Jasmin Parker-Brown

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This publication was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number U48DP006401 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.

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