My name is Mika Moran and I am a PhD Candidate in Urban Planning at the Technion - Israel Istitute of Technology.
I persued my Masters
degree in Public Health at the University of Haifa.
My PhD research is on the association between the built environment and health-enhancing-physical-activity in the form of active living (walking and cycling for transportation and leisure).
According to my interdisciplinary background, my research interest is diversified and licludes: urban planning and urban design, built environmnet theories, heath promotion, safety, transportation.
Research hypothesis: Urban Built Environments (BE) characterized by integrated land-use, streets connectivity and attractive urban design can facilitate and reduce barriers to Health Enhancing Physical Activity (HEPA ).
Background: Physical inactivity is a major burden on public health worldwide, due to its established association with several leading chronic diseases. Regular Physical Activity (PA), such as walking or cycling for 30 minutes a day, reduces the risk for chronic diseases, and can simultaneously reduce traffic-related pollution when substituting car trips. However, in many countries automobile-oriented land use patterns facilitate private car mobility and pose barriers to PA. In contrast to the well-documented causal association between PA and health, the role of the BE in PA is a relatively new and interdisciplinary area of research. Results of research to date, which were mostly cross-sectional, show that PA is positively related to ‘walkability’ defined as 'overall support for pedestrian and cyclist travel' and marked by: mixed land-use, streets connectivity, and pedestrian amenities. PA in the BE includes: Active Travel (AT) - PA while traveling to and from daily destinations (i.e. work, shops), including: walking, cycling and using public transit; and Active Leisure (AL), including any form of PA for leisure. Recently, the World Health Organization has identified innovative environmental and policy strategies to increase HEPA, which are applied worldwide, and several success stories have already been documented (e.g. Seattle, Copenhagen). The International Physical Activity and Environment Network (IPEN) develops a strong scientific base for these strategies by supporting research in many countries and providing a standardized research protocol as well as international pooled analysis. The proposed research, first of its kind in Israel, will examine thoroughly the associations between the BE and HEPA, according to the IPEN research protocol and a pilot research done in Israel .
Research objectives: The main objective of this research is to examine the associations between detailed measures of the BE with HEPA in Israeli urban environments. At the neighborhood level we will examine whether HEPA is more common in high- versus low-walkability neighborhoods. At the individual level, we will examine the relative influence of the BE on HEPA after controlling for personal and social factors. Furthermore, we aim to match specific BE characteristics with specific types of HEPA (AT, AL). These objectives carry great importance due to current global and national challenges both in the environment (increased car reliance and traffic-related pollution), and public health (high prevalence of inactivity, overweight and related chronic conditions).
Methodology: This research will employ a cross-sectional, multi-level design including three phases: during the 1st phase we will develop a walkability measure appropriate for Israel (by using existing GIS databases supplemented by observations) based on which we will choose 6 neighborhoods of high- and 6 of low-walkability, matched for socio economic status. In the 2nd phase, 50 adult residents (aged 20-65) from each neighborhood (1,200 in total) will be randomly recruited for a telephone survey about the BE, HEPA, health, and additional factors related to HEPA (personal, socio-cultural, etc.). The first two phases are fully based on the IPEN research protocol, including standardized and comparable instruments and measures of the BE, HEPA and health (adapted to Israel). The 3rd phase is based on a pilot study2 and includes the matching of specific BE attributes with specific types of PA (AT, AR) by interviews of 100 participants followed by space syntax analysis. The chosen area for this study is Tel Aviv district due to its ample variability in urban forms and populations, and the availability of GIS data bases
Expected contribution: The research expected contribution to the environment and health is significant both internationally and nationally: Internationally, participation in the IPEN research and pooled analysis will contribute to the global knowledge in this field, while increasing the generalizability of our outcomes. In Israel, the research outcomes will be translated to evidence-based guidelines for creating 'activity friendly environments'. Rigorous application of these guidelines by urban planners, public health official and policy makers will make Israeli urban environments more healthy and sustainable, by improving overall PA in the BE (AR and AT) and thereby reducing traffic congestion, noise and air pollution.
Background: In recent years a new inter-disciplinary field of knowledge has emerged that concerns urban...