Active Living Research

Dates of Program: April 1, 2001 to January 31, 2014

Description: Since April 2001, Active Living Research has promoted healthy living by identifying environmental factors and policies that can increase physical activity and by sharing this evidence with policymakers to help them create activity-friendly communities. The program’s vision is to make being physically active a part of daily life and normal routine. The program is continuing its work until February 2016 with a $1.75 million grant to accelerate use of credible evidence to drive childhood obesity prevention and strengthen the growing field of active living research.

Active Living Research helped to set the stage for all the work we are doing now in Culture of Health by refocusing upstream on the environmental factors and away from individual determinations. Back then, it was really a cutting-edge program. It changed the paradigm of understanding the drivers of physical activity.”—C. Tracy Orleans, senior scientist, RWJF

Key Results

  • Through June 2014, Active Living Research issued 260 grants to researchers from 31 disciplines.

  • Findings have appeared in 393 peer-reviewed journal articles, including in 13 special journal issues and supplements focused solely on Active Living Research.

  • Researchers reported 62 examples of policy contributions, 32 of which resulted in an actual policy or practice change.

  • Program staff built strong ties with representatives of agencies not traditionally focused on health—city planning and zoning officials, urban development agencies, and engineers—and has engaged in joint projects with them.

“Before Active Living Research, there were people working in public health and people working in urban planning, but the connection was not there about why it was important for public health to think about the urban landscape. You need people who make zoning policies on board so they design new developments for active living.”—Diane Barker, evaluator