Physical activity is important for the prevention and treatment of many diseases including diabetes, mental health, and some cancers. Unfortunately, physical activity is notoriously difficult to change. Only 15% of the Canadian population meet physical activity guidelines, with more educated and higher income people being more active.
Working closely with cities and local community organizations, and using mobile health technologies my research examines the best ways to design and build cities and towns that equitably increase physical activity for the entire population. My team develops new interventions and works with cities to evaluate the impact of existing interventions including bicycle share programs, bridge construction, and snow clearing on physical activity.
I have a Bachelor of Science in Public Health at Brigham Young University, where I developed my passion for and understanding of human movement. This passion lead me to Memorial University where I am currently pursuing a masters degree in muscle exercise physiology.
My endurance sports competition has taken me all over North American and I have seen both the best and the worst of running/biking-friendly cities. I am excited to be working alongside Dr. Fuller and the Walkabilly team to assist in the much needed research in infrastructure planning to increase physical activity, and to further the dialogue of how this can be done so that everyone, irregardless of socioeconomic status, can enjoy the benefits of physical activity!
Hui (Henry) Luan
Post Doctoral Fellow
I obtained my PhD in Planning from University of Waterloo, 2016. My research focuses on spatial and spatio-temporal modeling of health-related phenomena (e.g., food access and crime) using Bayesian approaches. The main aim is to detect spatial and spatio-temporal clusters of these phenomena and identify risk factors that contribute to the geographical disparities. Analysis results provide evidence for establishing public health intervention programs. I also strive to use more computationally efficient approaches to implement Bayesian models, i.e., Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation (INLA), other than Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC).
MPH Practicum Student
I am a Master’s of Public Health student at Memorial University with a keen interest in population health data, interventions and policy. Working with a local non-profit I have organized a Healthy Cities exploratory group seeking to improve health in the cities of the Avalon region. I joined Dr. Fuller’s Walkabilly lab to learn more about the potential for data collection, the technical aspect of data analysis and to advocate for a physically active region. As a practicum student I will be implementing the Neighbourhood Activity Living Potential (NALP) metric within St. John’s and promoting the Healthy Cities approach to municipal governance.
As many people know, maintaining a physically active lifestyle is important to one’s health and wellbeing. Regardless of this, many Canadians remain sedentary and inactive. This has given me an interest in exploring the factors that determine one’s physical activity levels and how we may improve activity levels within the population.
I have recently completed my master’s degree at Memorial University where I tested a behaviour change intervention aimed at helping older breast and prostate cancer survivors increase their physical activity. From this project, I have developed an interest in population and community health and has led to my enrolment in the PhD in Medicine program in Memorial’s Community Health department.
Desiree van Heerden
Engineering Practicum Student
I am a BEng student at Memorial University, completing my first work term as part of the Walkabilly team. I am hoping to enter the field of biomedical engineering once I have completed my bachelor’s degree. My role as part of the Walkabilly team is to find efficient ways collecting and analyzing data from wearable devices. I am very excited to learn more about the relationship between technology and monitoring population physical activity.