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The pilot physical activity study had a 92 per cent retention rate – a figure that’s almost unheard of in academic studies


have been a failure regardless of any physiological results. Te average participant in the


study experienced a decrease in Body Mass Index (BMI), fat mass, total cholesterol levels, LDL (bad) cholesterol, tryglycerides, body fat percentage, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and resting heart rate. Te average participant also increased their fat-free mass, HDL (good) cholesterol, VO2, muscular strength and flexibility. Translated into English, this means


that all of the participants increased the ability of their muscles to utilise lipids as opposed to glycogen, which aids the reduction of plasma lipids and therefore cholesterol levels. Te reductions in cholesterol are crucial, as anyone with a cholesterol level above 5mmol/L has twice the risk of developing heart disease. Additionally, the average reduction in


systolic blood pressure was over 5mmGg. To put this in perspective, it has been stated that a reduction in systolic blood pressure of as little as 3mmHg will reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) by 5–9 per cent, strokes by 8–14 per cent and all-cause mortality by 4 per cent.


Structured interventions Te structured exercise group took part in a structured programme that was standardised across the 40 people. Tis group actually reduced their systolic blood pressure by 7mmHg on average,


october 2012 © cybertrek 2012


meaning that they more than qualify for significant reductions in the risk of CHD, strokes and all-cause mortality. Tey also reduced their body mass by 2 per cent, fat mass by 6.6 per cent, and resting heart rate by 6.15 per cent. Te evidence suggests that, when an


individual follows a structured exercise intervention within a leisure centre, they can achieve significant physiological benefits. In short, if we can get an individual into a centre and adhering to a programme, we can improve their health.


Counselling – community hubs However, what about the percentage of the population who will never enter a centre to take up exercise? Te investigation also provided a


solution for these individuals. Te physical activity counselling group received a fortnightly face-to-face counselling session using the ‘5 As’ method (assess, advise, agree, assist, arrange), which encouraged them to be more active. Tis group of people were totally inactive and started from a lower base, but the results were impressive. Te average participant reduced their fat mass by 2.3kg, resting heart rate by nine beats per minute, and systolic blood pressure by 3mmHg. A quarter of the individuals have now joined the centre and participate in regular physical activity counselling. Health magazines are oſten filled with statements that leisure centres


could become hubs of the community, supporting the health and wellbeing of the entire community rather than only those who decide to take up memberships. Tis study has unearthed evidence that fortnightly 10-minute engagement sessions with an exercise professional at a leisure centre can improve health and wellbeing. We are not talking about a robust, complex method – just a simple discussion which can indeed transform facilities into hubs of the community.


Long-term impact Te pilot study has given us the platform to develop and deliver an even more ambitious study. From lessons learnt, the FIA Research Institute is now launching an investigation across 29 facilities, 2,320 participants, and delivered by 59 exercise professionals. Starting in September 2012, the new investigation will last a year. It will therefore prove whether we can change long-term behaviour and create the ultimate goal of getting previously sedentary people to exercise independently and sustainably. Te final message of what I hope will


be many articles on the institute is that we’ve completed a successful pilot study which has created an evidence base for what centres can deliver. Even more importantly, it has given us the platform to undertake challenging research that will create new methods for the sector to collect outcomes from training.


Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital 27


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