The Link Between Urban Design and Physical Activity
Physical activity is important for preventing and treating many diseases, including diabetes, mental health and some cancers. Unfortunately, it is notoriously difficult to change most people’s levels of physical activity. Only 15 per cent of Canadians get enough exercise, with more educated and higher-income people being comparatively more active.
As a teenager, Dr. Daniel Fuller spent his time cycling through Saskatoon’s inner-city neighbourhoods and kayaking on the South Saskatchewan River. This got him thinking about how urban environments can promote or limit physical activity and how they can be structured to reduce social inequalities in health. As Canada Research Chair in Population Physical Activity, Fuller is now trying to answer these questions.
By working closely with city officials and local community organizations, and using mobile health technologies, Fuller is examining the best ways to design and build cities and towns to increase physical activity equitably for entire populations. He and his research team are developing new interventions as well as evaluating the impact of existing interventions on physical activity, including bicycle-share programs, bridge construction and snow clearing.
Fuller’s vision is to find concrete ways to promote a physically active Canadian population. Ultimately, his mission is to help design urban and rural environments that increase physical activity equitably for the entire population.