Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine
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SBM Around the World - International Research Conducted by Physical Activity SIG Members

Sandra J. Winter, PhD, Physical Activity SIG Outlook Liaison

Physical Activity SIGThis Outlook article highlights some of the impressive international research activities being conducted by SBM Physical Activity Special Interest Group (PA SIG) around the world.

In Malaysia, Loh Siew Yim, PhD, from the University of Malaya Medical Center has studied the potential benefits of Qigong on the Quality of Life (QoL) among breast cancer patients. Qigong is a Chinese form of exercise that aligns breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation. The study found that individuals randomized to the Qigong group had improved QoL scores from baseline to post-intervention compared to individuals assigned to receive usual care or a placebo intervention. Dr. Loh's team has also explored the perceptions, barriers, and facilitators of physical activity among breast cancer patients and used this information to design an advertising campaign to encourage physical activity in this population.

In Australia, Paul Gardiner, PhD, from the University of Queensland has conducted innovative work aimed at understanding and influencing sedentary behavior in older adults. He reports a link between sedentary behavior and cardiometabolic health in older adults. Part of this work included a pilot study demonstrating that it is feasible to change sedentary behavior in the short term. The pilot study - Stand Up For Your Health - was delivered over a 2-week period and used behavioral modification techniques including goal setting and tailored feedback to encourage 59 volunteers aged 60 years and older to reduce sedentary time. The results were encouraging with average sedentary time being reduced by over 30 minutes per day.

In Mexico, Lucie Lévesque, PhD, from Queen's University in Canada is leading a multi-national team (Canada, Mexico and the USA) that is assessing the implementation and impact of the Mexican National Guidelines for Action in Schools, a comprehensive policy aimed at improving physical activity and eating opportunities for school children. Funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Dr. Lévesque is working closely with the Ministries of Health and Education in Mexico City.

Also in Mexico and in collaboration with Dr. Lévesque, Fulbright scholar Rebecca E. Lee, PhD, of the University of Houston has been working with the University of Guadalajara to measure physical activity, dietary habits, and body composition of 2,400 children in 40 schools in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Puerto Vallarta. She has also conducted environmental audit assessments of physical activity, pedestrian and cycling resources in surrounding neighborhoods. Dr. Lee is also the lead investigator of the NCI/NIH funded Multinational Collaboration to Increase Physical Activity in Hispanics, a project that includes other SBM members and fellows. This work involves conducting critical reviews of the existing research, programs and information promoting physical activity in Mexico and among Mexican Americans to develop consensus and recommendation statements.

In Latin America, researchers at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, led by Abby C. King, PhD, are adapting health information technologies (Smartphone apps, computer tablets and touch-screen monitors) developed in the U.S. to promote physical activity in older adults. In his work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded Healthy Aging Research Network, PA SIG Chair, David X. Marquez, PhD, from the University of Illinois at Chicago is establishing collaborations with research partners in Latin America. He is also engaged in collaborative research with the Institute of Geriatrics in Mexico regarding the health of older adults.

These are just a few of the ways that PA SIG members are harnessing behavioral medicine principles to improve global health. How can your work have global reach and impact?