You know the old saying, "it takes a village" to raise a child? A new study suggests the village also plays a key role in keeping adults physically fit.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported community-based physical activity programs for adults are cost-effective in reducing heart disease, stroke, colorectal cancer, breast cancer and type 2 diabetes.
The findings are in a CDC report titled, "Cost Effectiveness of Community-Based Physical Activity Intervention," which was published in the online version of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
"Our study found that public health strategies that promote physical activity are cost effective, and compared with other well-accepted prevention strategies, such as treatment for high cholesterol or motor vehicle air bags, offer good value for the money spent," Larissa Roux, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study, said in a statement.
According to the study, community-based physical activity programs appeared to reduce new cases of several diseases. With colon cancer, communities saw five to 15 fewer cases per 100,000 people; with breast cancer, there were 15 to 58 fewer cases per 100,000.
So, just how are communities working to improve the health of citizens? The CDC identified the following strategies:
>> Social support networks such as exercise groups to encourage behavior change.
>> Tailored behavior change to encourage people to set physical activity goals and monitor their individual progress.
>> Enhanced access to services that support active lifestyles such as fitness centers, bike paths and walking trails.
>> Community campaigns such as mass communication efforts (TV/radio, newspapers, billboards, advertisements).
William Dietz, director of CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, said in a statement that the study supports new physical activity guidelines issued recently by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The HHS recommends that each week people should do a total of two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking (for example, five times a week for 30 minutes). Or, each week they should do a total of 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging or running (for example, three times a week for 25 minutes). The HHS also said that two or more days each week adults should include muscle strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups.
To see the full CDC study, send a request to eAJPM@ucsd.edu.
To read more about new 2008 federal physical activity guidelines, click here to see an Oct. 8, 2008, SNEWS® story.