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Making the Case > Key Research to Support Rural Initiatives

Key Research to Support Rural Initiatives - landscape of many granariesIn this section, we highlight key research that focuses on rural issues, older adults, and physical activity and its determinants.

This research can help support your work in creating a community that encourages lifelong physical activity.


Rural Studies

1. Caring Contexts of Rural Seniors

This countrywide study looked into whether rural communities in Canada are good places to grow old.

The study’s findings identify what affects older adults’ ability to live in rural areas. The issues discussed all relate to older adults’ participation in physical activity.

The study includes various sections:

  • The Social And Support Networks of Seniors in Rural Canada.

  • The Availability and Use of Services Varies in Rural Canada.

  • Characteristics of Rural Communities Influence Their Capacity to Support Older Adults.

  • What Makes a Rural Community a Good Place to Grow Old? Views of Older Adults.

2. A Community-Based Approach to Promoting Walking in Rural Areas

This study showed an increase in walking trail use as a result of a variety of interventions based on community input.

3. Community Exercise Program Use and Changes in Healthcare Cost for Older Adults

This American study compared older adults who participated in a group exercise program with a control group that did not.

The study also looked at health-care costs over a two-year period. They found the exercise program participants had significantly lower health-care costs and hospitalization rates.

4. Creating a Robust Public Health Infrastructure for Physical Activity Promotion

This paper examines the current status of population-based and public health physical activity promotion. The paper also suggests strategies for engaging decision-makers, stakeholders and the general public.

5. Designing Health Promotion Messages for Older Adults in Rural Areas

This Alberta Centre for Active Living WellSpring article summarizes Chad Witcher’s study of physical activity among older adults in rural Newfoundland. He found that purposeful physical activity was a key factor for participation by older adults.

6. Health Beliefs of Rural Canadians: Implications for Practice

This study examined the health beliefs, values and practices of rural residents in southern Alberta and central and northern Manitoba. You can use the findings to create more effective physical activity interventions.

7. Physical Activity and Women Aged 55–70

This project focuses on increasing physical activity opportunities for women aged 55 to 70.

CAAWS carried out 38 focus groups between April and July 2006 across Canada in both French and English.

The focus group findings contain very useful information about why women are active or not. You can also find out what practitioners, leaders and decision-makers can do to create environments that support women’s physical activity.

8. Rural Communities 

The Active Living by Design website is focused on increasing physical activity through community design.

This part of the website focuses on rural communities. Many good studies are listed here, including Promoting Physical Activity in Rural Communities: Walking Trail Access, Use, and Effects.

This study highlights the importance of well designed trails in rural areas. The study’s authors found that trail use increased if the trails were safe and accessible for people of all abilities. The low cost of the activity was also a large factor.

9. A Telephone-Only Motivational Intervention to Increase Physical Activity in Rural Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial

This intervention increased the self-efficacy (confidence) of older adults for exercise participation but did not increase physical activity rates significantly.

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