I spent my teenage years riding my bicycle through Saskatoon’s inner city neighbourhoods to the Victoria Boathouse, where I spent my summers kayaking on the South Saskatchewan River. The time I spent paddling and observing the city from my bicycle got me thinking. Thinking about how urban environments can promote or limit physical activity. Thinking about how environments can be structured to reduce social inequalities in health.
As Canada Research Chair in Population Physical Activity, I am now trying to answer these questions. Physical activity is important for the prevention and treatment of many diseases including diabetes, mental health, and some cancers. Unfortunately, physical activity is notoriously difficult to change. Only 15% of the Canadian population meet physical activity guidelines, with more educated and higher income people being more active.
Working closely with cities and local community organizations, and using mobile health technologies my research examines the best ways to design and build cities and towns that equitably increase physical activity for the entire population. My team develops new interventions and works with cities to evaluate the impact of existing interventions including bicycle share programs, bridge construction, and snow clearing on physical activity.
My vision is a physically active Canadian population. My mission is to conduct research that will help design urban and rural environments that equitably increase physical activity for the entire population.