Online Program

Racing toward health? Exploring the public health potential of community-based road races

Monday, November 2, 2015

Clare Lenhart, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Studies, East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, PA
Noel Witzke, MPH, Department of Health Studies, East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, PA
Kathleen Lynch, MPH(c), Department of Health Studies, East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, PA
background: Most women fail to meet national physical activity (PA) recommendations putting them at increased risk of chronic ill-health yet female participation in community-based 5ks has increased.  With reimbursement for races available through the worksite wellness provision of the Affordable Care Act, exploring the efficacy of community-based 5ks as an intervention strategy to increase PA is warranted.

methods: This study quantifies the proportion of highly active participants in a community-based 5k and explores measured and self-reported PA during race preparation between novice, defined as less than six months of prior PA, and veteran exercisers.  Validated self-report surveys (N=437) and pedometer-recorded step counts (N=50) were collected in the month prior to the race; PA level (high ≥ 3000 MET/wk; moderate <3000 ≥600 MET/wk; low <600 MET/wk) was compared between groups.

results:  Increased PA in training was reported by 49.8% of women (N=218) including more veterans than novices (51.4% vs 43.8%, p=0.20) yet most women (62.4%, N=274) were only moderately active in training.  High PA was achieved by 28.4% (N=124) of all women.  Novices were significantly less likely to be highly active (12.4% vs 32.5%, p<0.001) but trained in response to physician recommendation (50.6% vs 26.7%, p<0.001) more often than did veteran exercisers.

conclusion: Novice and veteran participants differed in health indicators and pre-event PA.  Despite lower PA, participation was a stimulus for increased PA, particularly in response to physician recommendations. Continued study assessing changes in post-event PA to evaluate the sustained impact on the health habits of women is recommended.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe differing physical activity levels women participating in a community 5k and discuss the potential use of such races as a public health strategy to increase national physical activity.

Keyword(s): Physical Activity, Women's Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Assistant Professor of Public Health and am PI for this grant in which I lead study design and analysis. I have previously directed several other studies of physical activity and weight-related health indicators.
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.