Promoting Active Lifestyles

There is no disagreement that people who are more active have dramatically better overall health. Yet today’s average American adult burns 500 fewer calories per day than farmers and factory workers did 100 years ago — while consuming many more calories.

How do we invent broadly popular and achievable ways for people to become more active, so as to replace those “lost” energy expenditures?

Watch Live Event Recasts: Event 1

Meet the Challenge Team

The Challenge Team Members are leaders in their fields and reflect multi-disciplinary, passionate and thoughtful perspectives for the Challenge they represent.
Challenge Team members participate in the discussion held by the Great Challenges community, and will be creating responses to questions submitted by the community on the discussion tab.

  - look for this icon throughout the Great Challenges discussions. It is used to identify comments posted by the Challenge Team members.

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Scott Bricker
Executive Director, America Walks
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Scott Bricker is the Executive Director of America Walks, a national non-profit organization whose mission is to make America a great place to walk. Scott has over 17 years experience helping communities implement active transportation programs, leading strategic advocacy plans, and managing active transportation organizations. Scott’s work history includes 11 years at Oregon’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance, holding positions of Executive Director, Political Director, and Education Director. Scott led the launch of Oregon’s Safe Routes to School programs and served as the 2nd Safe Routes to School National Conference Director in 2009. As the lead lobbyist to pass innovative Oregon bicycle and pedestrian legislation, he was instrumental in the passing of the nation’s first vulnerable roadway user law and strengthening Oregon’s Stop and Stay Stopped law. Examples of Scott’s visionary leadership include the development of the Blueprint for Better Bicycling report, focusing on increasing low-stress bicycle routes – bicycle boulevards, and the installation of Portland’s first on-street bicycle corral. Scott earned his Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State University and Bachelor of Political Science from the University of Albany. Scott and his family live in a Portland, Oregon neighborhood boasting a ‘Walk Score’ of 91 and world-class bicycle routes and transit service. 

During my almost two decades of working to build healthy and sustainable communities, I have not found an issue that meets multi-disciplinary objectives such as walking. But walking is not widely recognized for what it is – the first and most fundamental form of transportation, the most basic type of physical activity and the most popular outdoor recreation – a tool for successful change. At America Walks, I strive to utilize my organizing, political, and technical skills and expertise to meet the primary objective of building a national multi-disciplinary walking movement. 

Scott Bricker
Executive Director, America Walks
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Genevieve Dunton PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California
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Genevieve Dunton, Ph.D, M.P.H. is an Assistant Professor of Research in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California. She earned a doctorate in Health Psychology from the University of California, Irvine and a Master of Public Health from the University of Southern California. Dr. Dunton received post-doctoral training in physical activity, nutrition, and cancer prevention from the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at the National Cancer Institute. The objectives of Dr. Dunton´s research are to understand the etiology of health behaviors related to chronic disease risk in children and adults, with particular focus on physical activity and nutrition. This work is guided by a social-ecological perspective of behavior change, which takes into account the interplay between environmental, social, and individual variables. She has authored over 50 publications and several book chapters on these topics. Dr. Dunton uses real-time data capture strategies to better understand antecedents, concomitants, and consequences of health behaviors. She is currently the PI on three studies, which use mobile phones to deliver electronic surveys, objectively measure physical activity, and indicate geographic location. Dr. Dunton is also the Chair of the Physical Activity Section of the American Public Health Association. 

I approach the issue of promoting healthy lifestyles as a public health researcher and educator. Through my research and teaching, I have learned that physical inactivity is a problem that reaches far beyond the individual. We live in a society with ingrained social norms that discourage physical activity whether through the auto-focused transportation systems, labor saving household devices, or the prevalence of sedentary desk jobs. As the Chair of the Physical Activity Section of the American Public Health Association, I bring the perspective that physical inactivity is a public health problem that needs to be addressed through coordinated efforts involving multiple types of community organizations, industry, government agencies, and public policy. 

Genevieve Dunton PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California
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Stephanie Pitsirilos-Boquin, MPH
Founder of Zoe Health, LLC.
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Stephanie Pitsirilos-Boquín, M.P.H. is the founder of Zoe Health, LLC. Her consulting practice offers an array of services to community, philanthropic and institutional projects. 

With ten years experience, Stephanie finds innovative ways to partner with multiple sectors of society to address complex public health issues. As former Program Manager, she helped create NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center’s childhood obesity prevention program CHALK (Choosing Healthy & Active Lifestyles for Kids) and the community-driven social marketing campaign “Vive tu Vida/Live your Life”. Her work has brought active lifestyle resources to Northern Manhattan and Pennsylvania, including a hospital based farmers’ market, bike racks, a successful “Take the Stairs” campaign, and after-school programs. She continues to apply her expertise to the program as a Campaign and Community Advisor.

Stephanie holds a master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. Her work has been recognized by the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI), the Asociación de Mujeres Progresistas, the BBC, The Uptown Collective, and the Let’s Move Campaign of First Lady Michelle Obama.

How does she live an active life? She’s an avid salsa-on-2 dancer and has authored a historical fiction novel exploring the calamities of refugee health.

When community members in an underserved area of Northern Manhattan rejected traditional models of health promotion, I facilitated their development of a brand promoting healthy lifestyles, while using grassroots activism to transform environmental services around its message.

I've created numerous fitness and marketing programs and see first hand the challenges families face in living active lives. Collaborating with businesses, school systems and health institutions over the years has led me to understand the role that policy plays in determining whether active lifestyles resources are available. My emphasis is in bridging environmental active design with lifestyle habit creation. 

Stephanie Pitsirilos-Boquin, MPH
Founder of Zoe Health, LLC.
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Andrew Rundle
Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
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Dr. Rundle is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and his research focuses on physical activity and obesity.  He directs the Built Environment and Health Research Group (http://BEH.columbia.edu) which studies how neighborhood built and social environments influence physical activity patterns and active transport (walking and cycling).  He and his team work closely with the New York City of Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to analyze population level data from New York City.  Research conducted by Dr. Rundle has been used as part of the scientific rationale for the ‘Active Design Guidelines’ published by the New York City Government in 2009 and for the Mayor’s Food Policy Task Force’s ‘Food Retail Expansion to Support Health’ (FRESH) initiative.  Dr. Rundle also directs the childhood obesity research efforts of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health.  This project has been following a cohort of children from birth to age 12, collecting multiple measures of height, weight, waist circumference and body composition as the children grow and develop.

As a researcher I am interested in understanding how we have come to organize and create environments and social structures that have removed physical activity from our daily lives and made sedentary activities almost a default behavior.

Andrew Rundle
Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
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Cliff Sperber
Vice President, NYRR Youth and Community Services
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Cliff Sperber is the Vice President of New York Road Runners' Youth and Community Services division and the leader of the organization’s quest to make running a part of every child’s school day. Beginning as executive director of NYRR Foundation in 2001, he has spearheaded significant growth in the division’s capacity: When the program began, it served about 100 children in New York City; today, it reaches more than 100,000 children throughout the five boroughs, in all 50 states, and in Africa, and the number is steadily growing. In 2011 alone, Sperber and his team served more than 700 schools and took part in over 250 community health events.

A tireless community organizer, Sperber previously worked with Pathways for Youth in the South Bronx for over 30 years. He firmly believes that running significantly improves children’s physical health and emotional well-being, and that it serves as a vital change agent for personal development and societal betterment. Sperber was recently named a “Hero” by Runner's World magazine. He holds a BA in Education from Queens College, City University of New York.

Forty plus years working in non-profit youth services, including a dozen leading New York Road Runners Youth and Community Services, provides me with a sharp perspective on Promoting Active Lifestyles. I have significant experience developing, distributing, and funding physical activity-based programing that is national, regional, and community-wide in scope, but consistent in the belief that a physically active lifestyle uplifts mind and spirit, as well as body, and is amongst the most accessible, affordable and effective means of improving people’s lives. 

Cliff Sperber
Vice President, NYRR Youth and Community Services

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Challenge Team Perspectives

We selected 10 questions out of the many submitted by our Great Challenges Community, to be addressed by each of our Team members.
See their responses and perspectives, below.

Question 1

What are the top 10 contributing factors that make promoting active lifestyles a great challenge?
Response from Genevieve Dunton PhD, MPH

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