Making It Easy to Get in Shape

Study finds accessibility key to folks staying with fitness program

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WEDNESDAY, Nov. 6, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Making it easy for people to exercise encourages even the most unlikely folks to become fitness enthusiasts and improve their health.

Living in poor neighborhoods, having diabetes or high blood pressure, or being overweight or obese didn't stop a group of people from attending exercise classes three times a week for 12 weeks, says a study in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The 31 men and women in the study collectively showed up for 87 percent of the exercise sessions. Only one person dropped out of the program.

By the end of the 12 weeks, the study participants had improved cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, endurance, flexibility and body composition, compared to a 13-person control group.

Researcher James H. Rimmer, of the University of Illinois in Chicago, says he expected a moderate to high rate of absenteeism, due to the complexity of the study participants' social environment.

He says the high attendance rate was probably due to highly motivated staff who kept in regular contact with the study participants. Another key element was making it easier for the participants to take part in the exercise program. They weren't charged for the exercise classes, and they were given free transportation to and from the classes.

Previous studies have shown that lack of transportation and living in unsafe neighborhoods are major obstacles that discourage sedentary adults from starting or staying with a regular exercise program.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more information about exercise and fitness.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, October 2002

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