The efficacy of physical activity in improving cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk profiles has been well established. However, the effectiveness of health promotion programs implemented at the community level remains controversial. This study evaluated a school-based work-site physical activity program.
Using a community-based participatory research model, a work-site wellness intervention was implemented in a rural public school system in Southwestern Oklahoma. During the 2005-2006 school year, 187 participants (mean age 45 years) completed a pre intervention screening for CVD risk factors followed by a physical activity promotion program. Post intervention screening was conducted after a 6 month period. During both screening sessions, body composition, blood pressure, lipids, glucose and self-reported physical activity levels were assessed. The focus of the intervention was on promoting physical activity. Opportunities for in school physical activity were created by marking hallways, adding a treadmill in each school, and allowing teachers to use planning periods for physical activity.
During the post intervention screening, compared to pre intervention levels, participants had lower total, low, and high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (t = 5.9, p < 0.0001, t = 2.6, p = 0.01, and t = 13.2, p < 0.0001 respectively), lower systolic blood pressure (t = 2.9, p = 0.004), and higher self-reported physical activity levels (Sign t = -1.901, p = 0.06).
A successful participatory program was associated with improvements in several CVD risk factors among school employees. Limitations of this study such as seasonal variation in the outcome variables and lack of a control group limit our ability to draw solid conclusions about the effectiveness of the intervention.