Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada
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Introduction: The lack of policy, practice and research action on physical activity and features of the physical (built and natural) environments in rural, remote and northern settings is a significant threat to population health equity in Canada. This paper presents a synthesis of current evidence on the promotion of physical activity in non-urban settings, outcomes from a national priority-setting meeting, and a preliminary call to action to support the implementation and success of population-level initiatives targeting physical activity in non-urban settings.
Methods: We conducted a “synopses of syntheses” scoping review to explore current evidence on physical activity promotion in rural, remote, northern and natural settings. Next, we facilitated a collaborative priority-setting conference with 28 Canadian experts from policy, research and practice arenas to develop a set of priorities on physical activity in rural, remote and northern communities. These priorities informed the development of a preliminary Canadian call to action.
Results: We identified a limited number of reviews that focused on physical activity and the built environment in rural, remote and northern communities. At the priority-setting conference, participants representing rural, remote and northern settings identified top priorities for policy, practice and research action to begin to address the gaps and issues noted in the literature. These priorities include self-identifying priorities at the community level; compiling experiences; establishing consistency in research definitions and methods; and developing mentorship opportunities.
Conclusion: Coordinated action across policy, practice and research domains will be essential to the success of the recommendations presented in this call to action.