The epidemic that is wreaking havoc on the 21st century is not smallpox, yellow fever, or cholera; it is obesity.
Recreation centers can help their communities get revved up about fitness. © Can Stock Photo Inc. / wacker
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2010 every state had a prevalence of obesity greater than 20 percent; in 36 states, it was greater than 25 percent; and in 12 states, the rate was more than 30 percent.
There is a need for private and public fitness/nutrition providers to ramp up programs to assist citizens with developing the skills and tools necessary to change their lifestyle and improve their health.
In 2007, Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation in Missouri developed such a program. With the technical support of St. Luke's Hospital, the parks and recreation department invited 40 families to participate in a pilot program called “RevUP Lee’s Summit.”
Family members were required to participate in pre- and post health-assessment testing, meet minimum exercise goals, attend educational and group exercise sessions, maintain exercise and nutritional logs, and meet regularly with a personal trainer. The project lasted 6 months.
In January 2009, a second RevUP pilot project included participation by 38 park employees. The program, lasting 8 weeks, was designed to encourage active lifestyles and healthy choices.
Employees were required to meet minimum exercise goals, attend educational sessions, and abstain from using tobacco products. Incentives included community-center memberships and time-off credits.
Based on the two pilot projects, the parks and recreation department developed a 12-week program that can be implemented by individuals, groups of friends, organizations, and businesses in the community.
An 8-week maintenance program called “RevUP Reload” is also available for graduates of the earlier program.
Providing the right resources can help people reach their health and fitness goals. Photo Courtesy of Evan Daniels
The intent is to perform physical pre-testing and nutritional evaluations during the first week. Participants are grouped with a personal trainer and nutritional consultant who develop a physical-fitness and nutritional program based on the realistic goals of the participants and/or organization.
Participants meet weekly with a personal trainer, attend nutritional classes, and receive a “coach call” as a part of the support structure of the program.
Measurable outcomes include:
• Clinical assessments to identify improvements in blood pressure and triglycerides, as well as any changes in glucose, LDL, VLDL, and HDL cholesterol levels.
• Pre- and post-progress physical assessments to measure improvements in cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body-fat percentage, and flexibility.
• Lifestyle changes associated with positive fitness and nutritional choices, including weekly time spent on physical activity versus sedentary activity, and positive nutritional choices versus poor choices.
Physical assessments are completed by trained and certified personal trainers, and nutritional assessments are completed by trained and certified consultants.
In addition to assistance from Saint Luke’s East and Truman Medical Center Lakewood to develop the program, Lee’s Summit Medical Center and Centerpoint Medical Center have recently partnered with the parks department to launch RevUP and bring it to the community at a cost-effective rate.
Ultimately, the goal is to develop the resources to provide the program at little or no cost for participants.
Teamwork makes it easier! Photo Courtesy of Evan Daniels
Since the 12-week program includes a membership to the community center, a personal trainer, coaches, classes, nutrition activity, pre- and post-behavior and physical testing, and blood work, the cost is $575 per person to participate. However, partners are assisting to achieve full-cost recovery.
Healthcare providers in the community are already sponsoring the program, and employers that are receiving benefits from reduced absenteeism and a happier, healthier workforce are providing support as well.
Meanwhile, insurance providers, helped by reduced costs due to a healthier workforce, are trying to do their part. In fact, once each participant’s organization/business designs its own program (i.e., employers pay $200, insurance covers $200, and participants contribute $175), some insurance providers offer special coupons to further reduce participants’ costs.
It is exciting to serve the community in such a meaningful way. Statistically, if the program prevents just one person from developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease, it is worth every penny.
Tom Lovell is the parks and creation administrator for the city of Lee’s Summit in Missouri. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org