Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Exercise and Nutrition Program

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Exercise and Nutrition Program

Article excerpt

What if free exercise classes were offered in public spaces such as parks, beaches, and recreation centers? When a city government in Brazil tried such a program, it greatly increased physical activity among community members. A group of health researchers who studied the program believes it could also work in U.S. cities with warm climates.

"This is the first thorough evaluation of a program of its kind and highlights the importance of renewing public spaces and providing physical activity classes," says Ross Brownson, senior author of the study and a professor at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). "This program could serve as a public health model in the United States, particularly across Sun Belt states." In Recife, the fifth largest city in Brazil, an initiative developed and managed by the city encourages physical activity in 21 public spaces. Physical education instructors teach free calisthenic and dance classes, lead walking groups, and provide nutrition information. These activities are offered free of charge each day from 5-9 a.m. and from 5-9 p.m.

Since 2002, the program, called the "Academia de Cidade Program" (ACP), has enrolled more than 10,000 residents per year and offered 888,000 exercise classes. In the study of the program, researchers found that current and past participants were three times as likely to exercise than residents who had never participated. …

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