The prevalence of chronic disease continues to grow not only in the United States but globally as well. As a result of the growing chronic disease epidemic, countries are implementing interventions aimed at reducing physical inactivity and encouraging healthy diets, two behaviors that affect chronic disease prevalence.
The Academia da Cidade program (ACP) is a community-based physical activity intervention that was implemented to encourage leisure-time physical activity in Recife, a city in northeastern Brazil. Simoes et al. (2009) evaluated the effects of the ACP on Recife and its citizens.
ACP is an intervention funded by the Brazilian government. The purpose of ACP is to provide supervised leisure-time physical activity for Recife citizens in twenty-one public spaces, such as parks, beaches, and recreation centers. A public space qualifies as an ACP site after undergoing an environmental assessment. Once a public space has been identified as a possible ACP site, the city pays for engineering and beautification costs.
Physical education teachers offer free leisure-time physical activity activities, nutrition education, and health monitoring at the ACP locations. Calisthenics, aerobics, walking groups, stretching, and dance classes were several examples of activities conducted during the leisure-time physical activity sessions. Leisure-time physical activity sessions were offered Monday through Friday, hourly from 5 am to 10 am and again from 5 pm to 10 pm. There were approximately 20 individuals in each session. The only participants required to register were those who needed health monitoring, such as blood pressure readings and nutrition assessments. Since 2002, more than 880,000 person-sessions have been conducted through ACP.
The study participants were primarily female (56.3%), older than 34 years (52.3%), and unmarried (57.2%), and reported their skin color as other than white (65.9%). The researchers used the International Physical Activity Questionnaire to determine both leisure-time and active transport physical activity of 2,047 randomly selected Recife residents. Simoes et al. also analyzed what factors determined whether or not a Recife resident was exposed to ACP and participated in ACP. Prevalence odds ratios for moderate and high leisure-time and active transport physical activity levels were also calculated based on exposure to the ACP program.
The results also revealed that former and current ACP participants had higher odds ratios for moderate and high leisure-time and active transport physical activity levels than those who had not participated. Furthermore, a higher odds ratio was seen for individuals who had either heard about or seen an ACP session.
Simoes et al. concluded that the Academia da Cidade program was a successful physical activity intervention that helped improve physical activity levels among citizens living in an urban environment.
Simoes, Eduardo J., Hallal, Pedro, Pratt, Michael, Ramos, Luiz, Munk, Marcia, Damascena, Wilson, Parra Perez, Diana, Hoehner, Christine M., Gilbertz, David, Malta, Deborah Carvalho, Brownson, Ross C. (2009). Effects of a Community-Based, Professionally Supervised Intervention on Physical Activity Levels Among Residents of Recife, Brazil. Am J Public Health, 99: 68-75.