World Healthy Life week: Active transport for better health. Tuesday 2nd November 2021

The webinar was free and hosted on Zoom.

You can view a recording of the session below.

If you wish to make a donation to the healthy heart charity the Cardiovascular Research Trust you may do so on our EventBrite page or through our donations page.

This webinar was held as one of a series of online sessions to mark the 2021 World Healthy Life Week, organised by healthy heart charity the Cardiovascular Research Trust and partners around the world to raise awareness of the cardiovascular and broader benefits of a healthy life for everyone around the world. These are serious issues not just for wealthier countries but also for less developed countries around the world.

The session is intended for senior and junior health professionals as well as interested members of the public from anywhere in the world.

World Healthy Life week is supported by medical society the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine which promotes Medical Learning for Life through conferences, webinars and two journals: the Postgraduate Medical Journal and Health Policy and Technology.

Tuesday 2nd November: 4pm UK time

Active transport for better health

Donald Singer – Chair, Cardiovascular Research Trust

The health benefits of active travel
Adrian Davis, Professor of Transport and Health, Edinburgh Napier University

4:20 pm
Reducing air pollution for better health as a driver for Active Transport
Mark J Nieuwenhuijsen, Professor in Environmental Epidemiology,
Barcelona Institute for Global Health
President International Society for Environmental Epidemiology

4:35 pm
How to promote active travel
Dr Tom Cohen, Senior Lecturer, Active Travel Academy, University of Westminster

4:55 pm
Q & A with panel and audience

5:15 pm

Kieran Seale – External Advisory Panel, Cardiovascular Research Trust
Donald Singer – Chair, Cardiovascular Research Trust

Click here for biographies of the panelists.

Active Transport & Health

Adrian Davis will provide a brief overview of the landscape and challenges including comparing the evidence hierarchy adhered to in public health and medicine with that applied today across much of UK national and local public policy making.

From the post war period through to the late 1990s  the links between road transport and health were limited and reductive. However, with the rise of the new public health and increasing recognition of wider determinants of health, transport links to health were increasingly studied from the 2000s. Indeed, a WHO Europe report in 2000, for which Adrian Davis was a co-author, suggested that the decline in active travel as the result of mass motorisation was possibly the largest negative population health impact. Over the past two decade the evidence for both the direct and indirect health benefits of active travel have been documented globally including estimates of reductions in the burden of disease. Increasingly active travel has been described as an importance co-benefit of interventions in the road transport sector to mitigate again climate change – if we can achieve mode shift from private cars for short journeys (most urban journeys in the UK are under 5km). The evidence shows that town and city-wide interventions are most likely to lead to sustained increases in active travel.

The challenge now is largely political to achieving the necessary changes to the environment and within normative behaviours to enable active travel to flourish. Barriers include a hugely powerful automotive industry wedded to slow and often unproven technological fixes in opposition to much of the science e.g. from the International Panel on Climate Change. Robust academic research has shown that technology cannot deliver without behaviour change as the major player.

Reducing air pollution for better health as incentive for more Active Transport

Poor air quality is one of the largest environmental risks to public health, as long-term exposure to air pollution can cause chronic conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as well as lung cancer, leading to reduced life expectancy.

Short-term exposure to elevated levels of air pollution (over hours or days) can impair lung function, worsen asthma, and increases in respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions and mortality. People most affected by air pollution are those who have established cardiovascular or respiratory disease, children, pregnant women and older people, communities in areas of higher pollution, e.g.  living near busy roads and therefore more likely to be low-income communities.

How to promote active travel

It is extremely good for us, tends to cost very little, and has a range of wider benefits.  But, as a nation, we do very little active travel, preferring to travel by car instead.  Why are we not choosing active travel (despite its many strengths) and how might that be changed?  Tom Cohen’s talk will provide an overview of current thinking about the art and science of behaviour change before applying that thinking to the specifics of active travel.  Through the “four Es” (education, enforcement, engineering and economics), it will offer a view of the range of interventions available for encouraging more active travel and what we might expect from them.

Healthy heart charity the Cardiovascular Research Trust has launched a regular monthly series of live webinars on healthy life and how to prevent heart disease and related illnesses.

Do please email us if you would like to suggest ideas for topics, questions and speakers for these live sessions

Webinars are free and hosted on Zoom

If you wish to make a donation to the Cardiovascular Research Trust you may also do so on our EventBrite page.

Webinars from healthy heart charity the Cardiovascular Research Trust provide updates for clinicians, patients and carers and the public on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of common and serious clinical disorders related to keeping the heart healthy and reducing the risk of other cardiovascular diseases.

The topics are of interest to a wide range of professionals interested in health, including clinical trainees, senior clinicians, policy makers, academics and other health professionals.


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