Date of Conferral
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death among United States women. Regular aerobic exercise can significantly reduce CVD risk. This dissertation reflects one of the first studies of the efficacy of Community Health Programs (CHP) in promoting exercise among American women aged 25 to 65. Primary data used from a study involved a sample of 42 women aged 25 to 65 who attended a CVD and exercise-related CHP, while a 42-member control group merely received the CHP information in a printed form. A pretest was administered at the outset of the study, and a posttest was administered at 3 months from the date of the CHP. Differences in gain scores between the groups were analyzed to determine the effects of the CHP on the following: exercise behaviors, self-efficacy, exercise-related self-efficacy, knowledge of CVD and recommended exercise guidelines, knowledge of community-based opportunities for exercise, tendency to involve other community members in exercise and/or discussion of exercise and CVD, blood pressure, blood glucose, body weight, and LDL Cholesterol. As expected, participants in the community health program reported, a stronger awareness of how exercise can affect cardiovascular health, better understanding of exercise guidelines, improved knowledge of exercise possibilities in the community, and improved self-efficacy scores. As hypothesized, participants in the health program were more likely to discuss exercise with friends and relatives, take part in exercise programs, and have reduced blood pressure, blood glucose, body weight and blood cholesterol measurements. This research demonstrates societal and individual benefits and creates a catalyst for positive social change.