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Active Living by Design is a national program established to create and promote environments that make it safe and convienent for people to be more physically active. In most communities throughout the United States it is difficult to walk or bicycle to work, school and other important destinations. Opportunities for these routine physical activities have been engineered out of our daily lives.
The goal of Active Living by Design is to encourage changes in design, transportation and policies to cultivate and support active living, a way of life that integrates physical activity in to daily routines. We believe active living approaches such as walking or bicycling for transportation or pleasure, playing in the park, taking the stairs and using recreation facilities will help people achieve the Surgeon General's recommendation of 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity on at least five days a week.
Active Living by Design has chosen 25 community partnerships across America to develop and impliment strageties to promote active living and increase routine physical activity. The diverse partnerships represent:
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Active Living by Design is a $16.5-million national program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is based at the School of Public Health at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. More information about Active Living by Design can be found at www.activelivingbydesign.org.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. For more information, go to www.rwjf.org.
Active Living by Design is a national program established to create and promote environments that make it safe and convenient for people to be more physically active. In most communities throughout the United States it is difficult to walk or bicycle to work, school and other important destinations. Opportunities for these routine physical activities have been engineered out of our daily lives.
Surgeon General's recommendation of 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity on at least five days a week.
Study shows brisk walking is a good way to stay fit
DURHAM -- No pain but some gain?
It's possible, say Duke University Medical Center exercise scientists who got 133 area "couch potatoes" to participate in what may be an internationally important research study.
Using carefully measured data, such as changes in the body's oxygen-use efficiency, the researchers showed that walking briskly for 12 miles a week is enough for fitness. The study was published Monday in the online medical journal Chest.
Increasing the mileage and/or increasing the effort, however, give even greater health benefits, even without any weight loss.
"Let's face it -- a lot of people don't like to exercise," said the study's lead author, Brian Duscha, Division of Cardiology clinical research coordinator who does exercise studies at the Human Performance Lab and Fitness Center in the Duke Center for Living. "The standard thing people want to know is what's the minimum amount they can do to get benefit.
" Fitness center posters and some fitness coaches have drilled people with the message of "no pain, no gain," often leading overweight middle-aged people to become discouraged.
"They may think they have to work out at least 40 minutes four or more times a week and get their heart rate up to something like 60 to 85 percent of maximum. But we found that isn't necessary," Duscha said.
But some exercise is necessary, he said. A brisk walk of at least 12 miles a week, for a total "investment" of two to three hours a week, produces measurable fitness benefits, which translate to lower risk for health problems later in life.
The study volunteers were overweight sedentary men and women who were beginning to show signs of blood lipid levels high enough to affect their health.
They were randomized into one of four groups: no exercise, low amount/moderate intensity (equivalent of 12 miles of walking per week), low amount/vigorous intensity (12 miles of jogging per week), or high amount/vigorous intensity (20 miles of jogging per week).
Since the trial was designed solely to better understand the role of exercise, the volunteers were told not to alter their diet during the course of the trial, which lasted six months for the group that did not exercise and eight months for the exercise groups.
The additional two months for the exercise groups came at the beginning of trial, when participants "trained," ramping up their exercise to their designated levels. The exercise was carried out on treadmills.
For their analysis, the team compared two measurements of fitness -- peak VO2 and time to exhaustion (TTE) -- before and after the trial. Peak VO2 is a calculation that measures the maximum amount of oxygen that can be delivered by circulating blood to tissues in a given period of time while exercising. Participants breathed into measuring devices through mouth tubing and wore nose clips to prevent leaks.
All the exercise groups saw improvements in peak VO2 and TTE after completing their exercise regimens
"It doesn't matter what you do, but you've got to find something enjoyable," Duscha said. "Most people can walk. If you can't walk, get on a stationary bike or get into an aquatic, non-weight-bearing exercise program."
The second key message, he said, is that even though a little exercise is great, more is generally even better.
"Above and beyond this 'dose' of 12 miles a week," he said, "an increase in either the amount or the intensity will provide an additional benefit. And if you do both, you'll get even more benefit -- a separate and combined effect."
The third key message drawn from the research, said Duscha, is that participants in the study improved their health without losing any statistically meaningful amount of weight.
"People tend to start exercising to lose weight," he said. "But the reality is you can get a lot of cardiovascular benefit without weight loss."
A previous study of the same participants by the same Duke team found that people who did not exercise and maintained the same diet gained up to four pounds each year.
Cardiologist William Kraus, who won a $4.3 million grant in 1998 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, led the Duke team. This is the latest of several publications to come from the project.
Joining Duscha were Duke colleagues Cris Slentz, Johanna Johnson, Daniel Bensimhon and Kenneth Knetzger. East Carolina University researcher Joseph Houmard also was a member of the team.
Article by Jim Shamp of The Herald-Sun
Oct 10, 2005 : 11:32 pm ET