Interventions in primary health care settings have been effective in increasing physical fitness. In 2001, the Programa de Exercício Físico em Unidades de Saúde (Physical Exercise in Health Primary Care Program—PEHPCP) was launched in Rio Claro City, Brazil. The intervention consisted of biweekly, 60-minute group sessions in all primary health care settings in the city. This study evaluated the effect of PEHPCP on physical fitness and on the aging process after a decade of ongoing implementation.
There were 409 women (50 ± 26 y old) and 31 men (64 ± 10 y old) who were eligible for this study. Every 4 months, participants completed the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance standardized tests.
Program participation was associated with a reduced effect, compared with baseline, of the natural decline of physical fitness caused by aging, as represented by changes in the following measures: coordination test time, −0.44 seconds; agility and dynamic balance test time; −1.81 seconds; aerobic capacity test time, 3.57 seconds; and muscle strength exercises, +0.60 repetitions. No significant effect on flexibility was found.
The PEHPCP showed potential in improving muscle strength, coordination, aerobic capacity, and agility and dynamic balance in participants and in maintaining flexibility in participants.