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"Promoting Health Through Physical Activity"

Season’s Greetings! We hope you are well and have survived another busy fall. Cooler weather is definitely here. Nothing feels better than to exercise outdoors in cool, brisk air. It is perfect for wearing the cool weather exercise gear that you keep in your drawer most months of the year. This issue of our newsletter provides information about different aspects of promoting physical activity: behavioral, environmental, and by differing populations. We also provide an update of happenings at our Prevention Research Center. Best wishes for an active and healthy holiday season!

Barbara Ainsworth, Director
Dennis Shepard, Deputy Director
Delores Pluto, Newsletter Editor,



IN THIS ISSUE – November/December 2000

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Why Water Aerobics?, Costs of Driving to Work

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN WASHINGTON: Health Disparities Legislation

RESEARCH NOTES: Stages of Change Among African American Women, Assessment of Trail Use, Measuring Physical Activity with the BRFSS, Messages Tailored for Blue Collar Workers

REPORTS, SURVEYS, GUIDELINES, RESOURCES: Promoting Better Health for Young People, Health Behavior Change in Managed Care, Why Johnny Can't Walk to School


WEBSITES OF INTEREST: International Society for Aging and Physical Activity, Hillary Commission, American Hiking Society, Fitness Jumpsite

USC PREVENTION RESEARCH CENTER UPDATE: New Staff, New Projects, Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health, Satcher Receives Honorary Doctorate from USC



WHY WATER AEROBICS?: Prevention magazine offers 10 reasons to try water aerobics: 1) burn 400-500 calories / hr (based on a 150-pound person), 2) won't make you sweaty, 3) easy on your joints, 4) improve balance and coordination, 5) tone every part of your body, 6) you control the level of difficulty, 7) maintain your heart rate at a safe level, 8) get a cardiovascular workout equal to land aerobics, 9) less intimidating than land aerobics (no one knows if you miss a step), and 10) it's fun!

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST YOU TO DRIVE TO WORK EVERY DAY? Use the commuting calculator at www.rides.org/lv2calc/calc.html to figure out your daily, monthly and annual driving costs. The costs take into account gas, tolls and parking, as well as maintenance and repairs. The site describes the benefits of various commuting alternatives such as biking, walking, carpooling, vanpooling, mass transit, and telecommuting, and provides tips on getting started in each.


HEALTH DISPARITIES LEGISLATION: On November 22nd the President signed the Health Care Fairness Act into law. The legislation authorizes $150 million for a new national center for research on minority health disparities at the National Institutes of Health; increases funding for research on quality of health care and outcomes for minorities within the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; and creates a new program to attract and train health disparity researchers. (From the Council on State and Territorial Epidemiologists "Washington Report" http://www.cste.org)


STAGES OF CHANGE AMONG AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN: This study was conducted to determine level of physical activity and health status among a group of African American women seeking health care. The researchers also explored the relationship between factors commonly associated with physical activity in the general population and the physical activity stage of change of the sample. Among the 104 women, ages 17-64, 23% of the women were overweight and 43% were obese (based on BMI). Forty percent of the women reported themselves to be in either the precontemplation or contemplation stage of change, 30% in preparation, and 30% in the action or maintenance stage. Self-efficacy, social support from family and friends, and enjoyment of physical activity were significantly correlated with physical activity stage of change. Barriers and benefits of exercise, however, were not. The authors recommend physical activity promotion strategies for primary care health professionals such as nurse practitioners. See Felton, Ott, & Jeter, "Physical Activity Stages of Change in African American Women: Implications for Nurse Practitioners," Nurse Practitioner Forum, 11(2):116-123, June 2000.

ASSESSMENT OF TRAIL USE: Researchers used an infrared sensor and intercept surveys to assess physical activity patterns and trail use on a trail in a community park near a major industrial worksite. Trail use was heaviest during weekdays in early morning and late afternoon. Respondents cited the following reasons for using the trail: the convenient location, attractive environment, safety, the presence of mile markers, freedom from motorized transportation, and the fact that the trail was paved. The vast majority of trail users, 84%, participated in regular physical activity, and most users were 20-50 years old, female, and African American. The authors conclude that a trail near a worksite would provide a convenient location for employees to walk or exercise, and could be an incentive to promote exercise. See Neff, Ainsworth, Wheeler, Krumwiede & Trepal, "Assessment of Trail Use in a Community Park," Family and Community Health, 23(3):76-84, October 2000.

MEASURING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY WITH THE BRFSS: This study used physical activity data collected by the 1996 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to describe the physical activity patterns in the US. The investigators used seven different measures of moderate physical activity that have been used in the literature and in public health recommendations (e.g., Healthy People 2000, CDC, ACSM, etc.). These measures vary in their thresholds for duration, energy expenditure, frequency, and intensity. The analysis showed that 13% of adults are regularly active at a vigorous level. Depending on the parameters used, moderate activity varied from about 20-38% of the adult population. The journal article discusses the different measures and recommends developing an appropriate standard for comparison. See Brownson, Jones, Pratt, Blanton, & Heath, "Measuring Physical Activity with the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 32(11):1913-1918, November, 2000.

MESSAGES TAILORED FOR BLUE COLLAR WORKERS: Using social marketing principles, researchers conducted an in-depth formative research study to identify components of messages that could be used in physical activity promotion programs for blue-collar university employees. An extensive survey was administered to examine which aspects of physical activity to emphasize. Results showed different message components should be emphasized in messages to women, men, and those with differing educational levels. The authors state, "In general, positive messages that focus on increasing energy, incorporating activity into busy schedules after a long workday, using the services of a trainer, and selecting a program that builds confidence and makes an individual feel good may help motivate workers to engage in physical activity." See Black, Blue, Kosmoski, & Coster, "Social Marketing: Developing a Tailored Message for a Physical Activity Program," American Journal of Health Behavior, 24(5):323-337, Sept. 2000.


PROMOTING BETTER HEALTH FOR YOUNG PEOPLE: "Our nation's young people are, in large measure, inactive, unfit, and increasingly overweight," according to a new report to the President of the United States from the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Education. "Promoting Better Health for Young People Through Physical Activity and Sports" outlines ten strategies to promote health and reduce obesity through lifelong physical activity and sports and includes a bibliography and appendices of helpful materials. Download the report from http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/presphysactrpt/index.htm or order a copy from one of the following sources. Mail: CDC at Healthy Youth, P.O. Box 8817, Silver Spring, MD 20907. Telephone: 888-231-6405, fax: 888-282-7681, or e-mail: HealthyYouth@cdc.gov. (When requesting via mail, fax, or e-mail, please provide a complete mailing address to where the publication should be shipped.)

HEALTH BEHAVIOR CHANGE IN MANAGED CARE: Throughout 1999, the Center for the Advancement of Health conducted a series of studies to understand the current picture of behavior change services in managed health care. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this project addresses (1) the capacity of health and behavioral science to provide evidence-based psychosocial and biobehavioral interventions for chronic disease prevention and management in managed care settings; (2) the extent to which the evidence is integrated into managed care; and (3) opportunities and challenges to integration from the perspective of HMO medical directors and health care purchasers. The report addresses risk reduction and preventive health behaviors (use of alcohol and other drugs, dietary practices, physical inactivity, and smoking cessation) and risk management of chronic diseases (asthma, cardiovascular disease, chronic back pain, depression, and diabetes). See www.cfah.org or contact the Center for the Advancement of Health, 2000 Florida Ave, N.W. Suite 210, Washington, D.C. 20009-1231, Tel: 202-387-2829 Fax: 202-387-2857, e-mail: cfah@cfah.org.

WHY JOHNNY CAN'T WALK TO SCHOOL: In a new report released in November, "Historic Neighborhood Schools in the Age of Sprawl: Why Johnny Can't Walk to School," the National Trust for Historic Preservation contends that public policies, including excessive acreage requirements, funding formulas, and planning code exemptions, are promoting the spread of mega-school sprawl on outlying, undeveloped land at the expense of small, walkable, community-centered schools in older neighborhoods. The National Trust calls on school administrators and public officials to establish policies to preserve and upgrade historic neighborhood schools. This new report is part of a broadly based effort by the Trust to increase public awareness and support for the need to save older and historic neighborhood schools. The effort includes a new National Trust publication, "A Community Guide to Saving Older Schools;" an appraisal guide for older school renovations; and successful case studies. See www.nationaltrust.org or contact Gary Kozel (202) 588-6013, e-mail pr@nthp.org.


AAHPERD: The National Convention and Exposition of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance will be held in Cincinnati, OH, March 27-31, 2001. This annual convention offers more than 400 in-depth conferences, sessions, and workshops dealing with every aspect of health and active lifestyles, fitness and aging, and state of the art dance technology. In addition, more than 300 fitness, sporting goods, and publishing companies exhibit the latest products and services. For information visit http://www.aahperd.org/convention/template.cfm?template=main.html or call (800) 213-7193, ext. 466.


INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR AGING AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: ISAPA is an international not-for-profit society that promotes research, clinical practice, and public policy initiatives in the area of aging and physical activity. The site contains a bulletin board and newsletter plus a library of public domain images of older adults participating in physical activity. See www.isapa.org.

HILLARY COMMISSION: Visit www.hillarysport.org.nz, the website of the Hillary Commission for Sport, Fitness, and Leisure to see what's going on in New Zealand. The Commission works with schools, community clubs, sports organizations, and local authorities to create opportunities for all New Zealanders to be physically active. The website contains sections on working with young people, sports, and coaching. One section, called "Push Play," focuses on promoting active lifestyles in the community.

AMERICAN HIKING SOCIETY: The American Hiking Society maintains an on-line directory of hiking trails at http://www.americanhiking.org/infocenter/index.html. The site also contains other information for people interested in hiking and trail conservation and policy.

FITNESS JUMPSITE: The Fitness Jumpsite is a non-commercial endeavor that offers fitness, health and nutrition related information and education. Operated by two American Council on Exercise certified Personal Trainers, the site aims to provides resources and support to "cultivate happy, healthy, and fit lifestyles." See how you like it, at www.primusweb.com/fitnesspartner.


NEW STAFF: The Prevention Research Center is pleased to welcome a new Research Associate, Dr. Delores Pluto. Dr. Pluto recently earned a PhD in Health Promotion and Education from the University of South Carolina School of Public Health, and her background is in promoting physical activity among older adults. At the Prevention Research Center, Dr. Pluto will be working on CVD/PA indicators and on communication/dissemination activities, including assuming the role of editor of this newsletter. Welcome aboard, Delores!

NEW PROJECTS: The USC Prevention Research Center is fortunate to have had several new projects funded recently. Below is a list, along with the principal investigator and the funding organization/agency.

1) Effects of Massage on Range of Motion and Flexibility, Dr. Patricia Sharpe, funded by American Massage Therapy Association Foundation
2) Pedometer-Assessed Physical Activity Surveillance, Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke, funded by Association of Schools of Public Health and CDC
3) Development of a Short Physical Activity Questionnaire, Dr. Chuck Matthews, funded by CDC
4) PRC Obesity Prevention Network -- Participating Center, Dr. Russ Pate and Dr. Roger Sargent, funded by CDC

NORMAN J. ARNOLD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: The University of South Carolina has named its School of Public Health in honor of Columbia business leader and philanthropist Norman J. Arnold. Mr. Arnold recently provided a $10 million endowment to the school to invest in programs not usually supported by state resources. An 18-year cancer survivor, Mr. Arnold and his wife Gerry Sue have donated time and significant financial resources to public and volunteer agencies in SC to bring healthier ways of eating and healthier lifestyles to the state.

SATCHER RECEIVES HONORARY DOCTORATE FROM USC: The University of South Carolina awarded an honorary Doctorate of Public Service to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher on Dec. 18. Dr. Satcher also delivered the commencement address, telling graduates about the "challenge we face in dealing with change" as we witness the end of a decade, century, and millennium. He also left copies of his "Prescription for Health," which includes moderate physical activity; a diet that includes fruits and vegetables; responsible sexual behavior; and avoiding tobacco, illicit drugs, and alcohol abuse. The prescription can be found at www.surgeongeneral.gov.


Writers: Delores Pluto, Regina Fields, Ralph Welsh

This and 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 Delores Pluto at dmpluto@sc.edu.

For continuing discussions about physical activity and public health, join the "Physical Activity and Public Health On-Line Network." Visit 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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