Implications of Active Living by Design for Broad Adoption, Successful Implementation, and Long-Term Sustainability

As best practices for active living are identified, it is equally important to identify ways to ensure that these practices will be adopted and maintained.

This commentary examines factors that promote successful implementation and long-term sustainability of community-based environment and policy change.

A key strength of Active Living by Design (ALbD) is the diversity of both the communities it serves and the program partners. Including urban and rural communities in various climates and geographic regions enhances confidence that success is generalizable. The variety of partners included in the ALbD communities, such as city planners, law enforcement, schools, residents and neighborhood associations, also bodes well for identifying issues that will resonate with the target populations. The 5P model (preparation, promotion, programs, policy and physical projects) is another feature expected to enhance implementation.

The authors identified the following practices as important for lasting success:

  • Encouraging shared leadership among partners
  • Leveraging resources is key to sustaining the momentum of the partnership’s activities
  • Regular reporting of immediate and interim outcomes
  • Documenting adaptations, challenges and lessons learned will help to spread best practices
  • Integrating partnerships or activities into permanent structures.

The ALbD program elements have been widely adopted and successfully implemented in diverse communities. Ongoing evaluation and progress reporting will prove key to long-term sustainability. Since health outcomes may not be evident for years to come, documenting intermediate outcomes will provide valuable feedback to the partnership and an opportunity to celebrate accomplishments, make course corrections and sustain momentum.