Online Program

Exercise in the park program promotes physical activity in underserved neighborhoods

Monday, November 2, 2015

Carolyn Buenaflor, MPH, CHES, Healthy Habits, Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles, CA
Leading physically active lifestyles is as crucial as practicing healthy eating practices for overall health.  For those in underserved communities, opportunities for physical activity are limited due to lack of resources, safety concerns and environmental barriers but the need for physical activity is no less than in other communities.  Exercise in the Park is a free and safe structured physical activity program held in the summer months. Part of the Healthy Habits program, it began informally when a group of parents started to exercise together at a nearby park after Healthy Habits parent education workshops.  It soon gained popularity and the demand for it grew.  In the summer of 2014, the program had over 370 participants. Participants varied in age from teenagers to octogenarians, with about half of participants walking more than four blocks to the parks. Evaluation results show a positive impact on the participants, not only in their overall health but in their emotional well-being as well.  Participants reported changes in their eating habits, doing more exercise at home and some reported weight loss.  Additionally, they especially valued the camaraderie and social support they received from the program, and overwhelmingly expressed their desire to continue this program year-round.  This program has grown and funding for it secured through the establishment of policies and program protocols.  They help better serve the needs of the participants but also help ensure the continuity of the program.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify elements of a successful physical activity program in the community. Describe the critical role policies and protocols play in establishing physical activity programs in the community. Discuss challenges in maintaining physical activity behaviors outside of program reach.

Keyword(s): Community Health Programs, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Associate Director of the Healthy Habits program for the past four years where I oversee all aspects of the program including program planning, implementation and evaluation. I have over 15 years' experience in community outreach and health education. I earned my Master's degree in Public Health and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.