walking for exercise

Community Physical Activity Efforts Cost Effective, Study Shows

Community-based campaigns promoting more active lifestyles among adults are cost effective at reducing heart disease, stroke, colorectal and breast cancers, and type 2 diabetes, as well as improving quality of life, according to a study performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Researchers found such programs appeared to reduce new cases of disease by 5-15 cases per 100,000 people for colon cancer; 15-58 cases per 100,000 for breast cancer; 59-207 cases per 100,000 for type 2 diabetes, and 140-476 cases per 100,000 for heart disease.

The interventions studied included mass communication (TV, radio, newspapers, billboards, advertisements); social support networks; tailored behavior change to encourage people to set physical activity goals and monitor their individual progress; and greater access to services that support active lifestyles, such as fitness centers, bike paths, and walking trails.

"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," said Dr. Larissa Roux, MD, Ph.D., lead author of the study, "Cost Effectiveness of Community-Based Physical Activity Intervention," which was published in the online version of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"This study supports the value and effectiveness of the physical activity interventions that were studied," said Dr. William Dietz, MD, Ph.D., director of CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. "This study also shows the importance of the new physical activity guidelines put forth last month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services." The HHS guidelines recommend 2.5 hours per week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or 1.25 hours per week of vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging or running. Also, adults should include muscle strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups on two or more days per week.

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