International Physical Activity and the Environment Network (IPEN)


In 2000, Dr. Larry Frank, along with Dr. Jim Sallis and Dr. Brian Saelens were awarded a National Institutes of Health grant to study the environmental correlates of physical activity in the U.S. using objective measures of environments (Geographic Information Systems) and physical activity (Actigraphs). This is the Neighborhood Quality of Life Study (NQLS). In 2002, Dr. Owen was awarded a grant to conduct the PLACE study in Australia.  In 2007-2008, Dr. De Bourdeadhuij used a similar study design to NQLS and PLACE in the Belgian Environmental Physical Activity Study (BEPAS). With these three studies serving as the foundation, the time was right to advocate for similar studies to be conducted in other countries, and there would be many advantages to using common study designs and measures.

IPEN was formed to invite and support investigators around the world to participate in this new area of research that we believe has great public health significance. The core team has since been joined by Dr. Jacqueline Kerr who has experience conducting research in Europe and is now based in San Diego.

In 2009, the IPEN Study was launched to further the field by addressing underestimated associations of environmental correlates of physical activity due to the limited range of environments in any single country.

The network aims to:

  • increase communication and collaboration between researchers investigating environmental correlates of physical activity
  • stimulate research in physical activity and the environment
  • recommend common methods and measures
  • support researchers through sharing of information, feedback, letters of support etc.
  • bring together data from multiple countries for joint analyses
  • aid in the publication of data through papers, special journal issues, symposia etc.

For more information on IPEN, visit the website.