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Heart Disease Prevention Program Improves Outcomes

Subjects participated in group exercise programs to promote physical activity.

Heart disease prevention program

A large-scale healthcare prevention program that focused on promoting physical activity and a healthy lifestyle reduced the risk of a first cardiovascular event, death by cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality by 12% to 21%, according to a Swedish study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2020; doi:10.1136/bjsports-2019-101749). The program included 5,761 male and female participants (mean age, 45.6 years), and the median follow-up period was 22 years.

To promote exercise, the researchers created a “Physical Activity on Prescription” tool that healthcare professionals used to refer patients for supervised fitness training. This led to the rapid growth of exercise groups, with up to 15–20 individuals in each group. People also formed pods for cooking, weight loss, smoking cessation and stress management.

What’s significant about this study is the length of follow-up when compared with other studies that have evaluated the effectiveness of lifestyle-oriented health promotion programs. Study limitations included voluntary participation, among other factors.


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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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