health & active lifestyle
Essentials for developing successful ‘Active Lifestyle Programmes’
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1. In your view, what are the key success factors for a city to implement an active lifestyle programme?
Well, there are many different elements that contribute to the success of an active lifestyle programme!
The most important is that the political levels recognize that active living is critical for the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. Without a strong support from all political authorities, active lifestyle programmes lack of leadership and commitment and therefore affect its performance.
Second, a synergy needs to exist between the main partners of the programme, whether they come from the public, voluntary or private sectors.
Finally, national physical activity policies and strategies can be extremely helpful provided they explicitly recognise the importance of the role of local governments in their implementation.
2. What should cities keep in mind when partnering with public or private organisations in the development of active lifestyles programmes?
Creating physical and social environments that are supportive to active living is a long-term endeavour that requires sustained commitment by many actors. Cities should keep in mind that the private sector can support and sponsor programmes, policies and services that encourage active-living for employees and their families and can provide funding for initiatives for events and long-term programmes for the entire community. They tend to forget that healthy living can also benefit the private sector; cities should therefore not hesitate to reach out to them.
3. How can a city measure and monitor the success of an active lifestyle programme?
A city can do a lot to monitor and measure the effect of its active living policies, strategies and programmes. Baseline data on infrastructures, services and active lifestyle related behaviours desegregated by location and socio-economic groups and gender are essential. Regular surveys of physical activity behaviours amongst the general population or targeted groups are very important. Sets of process and outcome measures to evaluate the success of individual programmes are necessary
4. In your role at the World Health Organisation, you have had the opportunity to work with many cities in promoting healthy habits for their population. Can you share with us an example of a city who achieved great results in the implementation of such a programme and tell us what were the key element to its success?
A key principle in any attempt to promote healthy habits is ‘making the healthy choices – the easy (-ier) choices’. Here are a few examples of cities that have launched successful programmes:
Copenhagen is one of the best cities for cycling in the world with a unique network of safe cycling lanes. Promoting cycling in the city without appropriate infrastructure can be very dangerous, but the city of Copenhagen was not afraid to make its cycling infrastructure safer to allow the practice of cycling by everyone.
Cardiff, Bursa, Ljubljana, and Milan are good examples of cities that invested in creating conditions supportive of active living for different groups of the population. Promoting walking for all ages in places where people live and work can be a function of many parameters such as quality of pavements, removal of architectural barriers, accessibility to greens, neighbourhood safety and security, and proximity of shops. These four cities all implemented programmes which successes were attributed to the presence of all these parameters.