What to expect at ALR 2017.
Exclusive Interview with Conference Chair, Rodney Lyn.

What is the Active Living Research Conference 2017 and who is it for?
The Active Living Research Conference is an annual gathering of researchers and practitioners committed to creating communities that support safe, active lifestyles for all through environmental change approaches and evidence-based programs and policies. The meeting rests upon a cross-disciplinary foundation, recognizing that there are numerous disciplines that have a role to play in advancing active living. Researchers and practitioners from diverse settings and sectors will feel at home during this engaging and informative 3-day meeting.

What does active living research mean to you?
Active living research is focused on improving our understanding of how social and environmental factors influence lifestyle behaviors related to physical activity. The term active living (emphasis on “living”) suggests that our aim is to help individuals and communities integrate physical activity into daily life. The approaches and strategies for achieving active living are numerous and vary by setting and sector, hence the need for a multi-disciplinary conference like ALR that allows researchers and practitioners from diverse backgrounds to examine emerging evidence and progress. The ALR conference rests at the nexus between research and practice, integrating findings and experiences from the field while providing a venue for rich exchange and collaboration.

The conference has been running since 2004. How do you see this year’s conference building on that history, and evolving? What can people expect from participating in 2017’s Active Living Research Conference?
ALR 2017 will deliver the engaging, high quality program that participants have come to enjoy and expect. This will include a variety of formats, including workshops, roundtable discussions, keynote plenaries, concurrent presentations, and interactive posters sessions. Participants will never grow weary as the meeting always includes energizing physical activity breaks and activities. Don’t miss ALR 2017.

The conference theme is Active Living across the Life Span. Why is this and what does it mean to you?
The burden of chronic disease in the US represents a significant threat to population health and threatens to halt gains in life expectancy that have been achieved over the past 100 years. The benefits of physical activity are well documented for individuals regardless of age cohort. As we work to promote environments that support physical activity and healthy lifestyles, we must ensure that there are opportunities for all community members to engage in active living. The conference theme serves to place emphasis on our need to expand our understanding of effective approaches to creating environments, policies, and programs to support active lifestyles throughout life.

Tell us about your own research journey; where did you begin, where are you now, and why? Are there any projects you want to work on in the future? Where do you think your research will take you?
My research journey began in 1997, shortly after completing a M.S. degree in Exercise Science, when I accepted my first research position coordinating a community-based obesity prevention intervention for adolescent African-American girls in housing developments in the City of Atlanta. The intervention, called “Go Girls” introduced me to the behavioral sciences and their role in shaping health behaviors. Through that work, I recognized the need to focus more on upstream factors, like public policy, that shape the environments in which children spend their time. Since then my work has focused on policy, system and environmental approaches to promoting physical activity. My interests include school and community health, chronic disease prevention, and the reduction of health disparities. I currently serve as Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Why did you choose to become conference chair? What does this position mean to you? What does it feel like being chair of such a conference?
It is an honor to have been asked to serve as conference chair. I agreed to serve because I have so richly benefited, personally, from being a participant in prior ALR conferences. As a result of ALR, I have had the opportunity to: present my research; establish productive collaborations with peers; publish my work; and, build lasting friendships with colleagues in the US and abroad. I have found the ALR Conference to be the most productive and enjoyable meeting I attend each year. I’m delighted to work with the Program Committee to ensure that the 2017 meeting is a success and that it lays the foundation for future ALR conferences.

What about the conference are you most looking forward to?
I don’t believe I can isolate one thing; there are so many things I love about ALR: engaging, high quality presentations; multi-disciplinary perspectives that challenge me to reframe my work; the opportunity to reconnect with colleagues – both researchers and practitioners; the integration of physical activity breaks into the meeting (let’s practice what we preach); and last but certainly not least, the nutritious and tasty meals - always a winner.

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