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"Promoting Health Through Physical Activity"

Welcome to the May/June 2000 issue of the PRC Notes! The first official day of summer is this week – be sure to take necessary precautions for outdoor activity in hot and sunny weather. Drink plenty of water and protect yourself from the sun – slip on a tee shirt, slap on a hat and slop on some sunscreen. Be careful and have a great summer!
Barb Ainsworth, Director

Dennis Shepard, Deputy Director
Regina Fields, Newsletter Editor (RMFields@sc.edu) 
IN THIS ISSUE – May/June 2000

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Kicking Your Way to Fitness

RESEARCH NOTES: Community Walking Trails, Tracking Rural Adolescent Physical Activity Behaviors, Prevalence of Leisure-Time Physical Activity Among Overweight Adults, Determinants of Adolescent Physical Activity 

REPORTS, SURVEYS, GUIDELINES, RESOURCES: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, School Health Index, “Sisters Together” Program

UPCOMING CONFERENCES AND WORKSHOPS: Call for Abstracts – Chronic Disease Prevention Conference, Wellness Conference, Society for Public Health Education

WEBSITES OF INTEREST: Sprawl Watch, The Female Athlete


KICKING YOUR WAY TO FITNESS: The latest fitness craze, cardio-kickboxing, will allow you to burn an average of 350 to 450 calories per hour and reach a heart rate of 75% to 85% of your maximum heart rate, which is within the recommended range of 65% to 85% for aerobic exercise. This activity is offered at many health clubs and recreation centers nationwide. Make sure your instructor is certified and that you learn a few basic moves before participating. Don’t forget to warm-up, stretch, and cool down to avoid injuries. For more information see http://content.health.msn.com/content/article/1676.50657. This site has links to other related sites. 


COMMUNITY WALKING TRAILS: Residents of 12 rural Missouri counties were surveyed about their physical activity behaviors, knowledge and attitudes and their attitudes towards and use of community walking trails. Just over one third of respondents said they had access to walking trails, and almost 40% of those had used the trails. Of those who used the trails, 55.2% said they walked more often since they began using the trails. Women and individuals with a high school education or less were more than twice as likely to have increased their amount of walking. The authors concluded that “Walking trails may be beneficial in promoting physical activity among segments of the population at highest risk of inactivity, in particular women and persons in lower socio-economic groups.” See Brownson, Housemann, Brown, Jackson-Thompson, King, Malone & Sallis, “Promoting physical activity in rural communities: Walking trail access, use and effects.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, April 2000, 18(3):235-241. 

TRACKING RURAL ADOLESCENT PHYSICAL ACTIVITY BEHAVIORS: Researchers measured physical activity and health related physical fitness variables of fifth graders in South Carolina. Two hundred sixty-nine rural, predominantly African-American students provided baseline data and 181 of these participated in sixth and seventh grade follow-up assessments. A Previous Day Physical Activity Recall (PDPAR) self-report instrument was used to list the main activities in which students participated during after school hours (3PM to 11:30PM). Health related physical fitness measures (cardiorespiratory endurance, upper body strength, and body composition) were also collected. The study suggested that specific sedentary behaviors tracked well over time, but tracked poorly in combination. There was a tendency for students to maintain physical activity status. Measures of health related physical fitness had a moderate to strong tracking tendency. A significant percentage of students classified as “at risk” for low levels of physical activity and health related physical fitness remained “at risk” two years later in the seventh grade. The authors suggest that public health initiatives should begin early and target children and adolescents to promote lifelong physical fitness before unhealthy behavior patterns are fully established. See Pate, Trost, Dowda, Ott, Ward, Saunders & Felton, “Tracking Physical Activity, Physical Inactivity, and Health-Related Physical Fitness in Rural Youth.” Pediatric Exercise Science, 1999, 11:364-376. 

PREVALENCE OF LEISURE TIME PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AMONG OVERWEIGHT ADULTS: The leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) patterns of overweight adults (Body mass index of > 25.0) were reported in a recent MMWR. The report is based on the 1998 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) national data set. In 1998, 66.6% of overweight men and 62.2% of overweight women reported trying to lose weight by using LTPA. The prevalence of using LTPA to lose weight was lowest among residents of southern states. In 1998, 62.7% of overweight adults used LTPA as a strategy for weight loss by participating in at least 30 minutes per session and 28.0% participated in LTPA five or more times per week. Both sexes reported walking as the most frequent activity (37.7% for men and 52.5% for women). Two-thirds of overweight adults reported using LTPA as a method of weight reduction. However, although most reported exercising for > 30 minutes per session, a minority exercised at least five times per week. Another finding was that LTPA as a method for weight reduction was least common among obese, least educated, and older persons. See “Prevalence of Leisure-Time Physical Activity Among Overweight Adults – United States, 1998.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, April 21, 2000, 49(15):326-330. 

DETERMINANTS OF ADOLESCENT PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health was analyzed to examine determinants of physical activity and inactivity among adolescents grades 7 – 12. Activity and inactivity were both divided into three levels: low, medium, and high. Researchers found that having physical education 1 to 4 times a week was associated with a 44% increase in the likelihood of falling into the highest level of physical activity. Having physical education 5 times a week was associated with a 121% increase in falling into the highest level of physical activity. Using a recreation center was associated with a 75% increase in the likelihood of falling into the highest level of physical activity, and high crime levels in the neighborhood were associated with a 23% decrease in the likelihood of falling into the highest level of physical activity. Other socio-demographic variables were examined as well. The researchers note that the data may be misleading because it is possible that community recreation centers may not have been available to some respondents, and it is also possible that physically active people are more likely to use recreation centers. [Ed.: It is also possible that physically active youth are more likely to take additional physical education classes beyond the minimum required for high school graduation.] However, as one of a very few studies which have examined these issues, this research points the way toward future research. See Gordon-Larsen, McMurray & Popkin, “Determinants of Adolescent Physical Activity and Inactivity Patterns.” Pediatrics Online, June 6, 2000, 105(6):e83 [www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/105/6/e83]


YOUTH RISK BEHAVIOR SURVEILLANCE (YRBS): The 1999 YRBS summary was released in the June 9, 2000 issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (Vol. 49, No. SS-5). The summary is available online at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/, and is also available by contacting 202-512-1800. Information related to physical activity includes participation in vigorous and moderate physical activity, strengthening exercises, television watching, physical education class, and sports teams. State-level statistics are provided where available. 

SCHOOL HEALTH INDEX: To help provide structure and direction to school efforts to improve health promotion policies and programs, CDC has produced the “School Health Index: A Self-Assessment and Planning Guide” for physical activity and healthy eating. Future guides will focus on other healthy behaviors. Available in an elementary school version or a middle/high school version, the School Health Index enables schools to 1) Identify strengths and weaknesses of school policies and programs, 2) Develop an action plan for improving student health, and 3) Involve teachers, parents, students and the community in improving school services. A brochure about the index is available as well. The index can be downloaded at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/SHI/index.htm. It is available to schools at no cost, by calling 1-770-488-3168, e-mailing ccdinfo@cdc.gov, or faxing 1-888-282-7621. When ordering, specify either the elementary or middle/high school versions. [From the School Health Index brochure.]

“SISTERS TOGETHER” PROGRAM: The National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Disease (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has published the Sisters Together Program Guide. The guide is based on the 3-year “Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better” program designed to encourage African American women in Boston to control their weight by increasing physical activity and eating healthy foods using culturally appropriate classes, demonstrations, and seminars. The Sisters Together planning guide and walking brochure can be accessed at http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/hutrit/sisters/sisters.htm, or call WIN’s toll-free number (800) WIN-8098. 


CALL FOR ABSTRACTS -- CHRONIC DISEASE PREVENTION CONFERENCE: Abstracts are due June 30,2000 for the 15th National Conference on Chronic Disease Prevention and Control (Living Healthier, Living Longer: The Will and the Way), which will take place on November 29 through December 1, 2000 at the Washington Hilton and Towers in Washington, D.C. Conference sponsors are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Association of State and Territorial Chronic Disease Program Directors (ASTCDPD) and the Prevention Research Centers Program (PRC). For more information see http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/conference/index.htm, or call Estella Lazenby at (301) 588-6000.

WELLNESS CONFERENCE: The 25th Annual National Wellness Conference (Pathways To Wellness) will be held at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point Campus in Stevens Point, Wisconsin on July 15-21, 2000. This conference will include over 230 presentations by 140 presenters featuring 60 nationally recognized leaders. The theme of the conference is facilitating individual growth and supporting cultural change by promoting healthy attitudes and behaviors through population health management and social marketing.

SOCIETY FOR PUBLIC HEALTH EDUCATION: “Taking Risks: Revitalizing the Revolutionary Spirit of the Profession” will be the theme of the 51st annual meeting of the Society for Public Health Education. The meeting will be held November 10-12, 200 in Boston, Massachusetts. Pre-conference workshops include “Using the Transtheoretical Model as a Foundation for Public Health Program Design and Evaluation.” Conference sessions include, “The New Public Health Paradigm: Changing Community Design to Support Active Community Environments,” “Community Coalitions: Translating Ideas to Practice,” and “Social Ecology: Systems Change in an Open Society.” For more information, check out the SOPHE website at www.sophe.org, or call 202-408-9804. 


SPRAWL WATCH: Many in public health believe that one culprit in the problem of physical inactivity is urban sprawl, which prevents individuals from bicycling or walking for transportation. The Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse website, at http://www.sprawlwatch.org/ provides information and updates on managing growth and on the best land use practices. An extensive list of reports and resources, organized by topic, is included, as well as newsletters and a calendar of conferences and activities. Current news and events are also featured. 

THE FEMALE ATHLETE: The Female Athlete is a commercial website selling female-specific athletic products. The website also has several free items of interest. The site provides information on female sports and celebrity statistics and interviews, and there are forums on current teams and sports topics. A unique feature is “Team Central,” which provides free websites for young women’s sports teams. Check it out at www.thefemaleathlete.com

Writers: Regina Fields, Joel Williams

Past issues of the “University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center Notes” are available at our website. If you have an item you’d like to submit, please send it to Regina Fields at rmfields@sc.edu.

For continuing discussions about physical activity and public health, join the “Physical Activity and Public Health On-Line Network.” Check out our website, http://prevention.sph.sc.edu, for instructions on joining. 


Prevention Research Center
Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina
730 Devine Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29208

Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



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