Healthy Lifestyle Programs May Provide Overlooked Benefit

University of Pittsburgh researchers have shown that participating in a lifestyle intervention program to improve health not only helped people lose weight, increase their physical activity, and reduce their risk of diabetes and heart disease, it also increased their health-related quality of life by an average of nearly 10 percent. 

The researchers investigated the impact of the Group Lifestyle Balance program, a 22-session curriculum aimed at helping people make lifestyle changes to decrease their risk for diabetes and heart disease. The goals of the program are to help participants reduce their weight by 7 percent and increase their moderate-intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking) to 150 minutes per week.

Before beginning the program, each study participant ranked his or her health on a scale from 0 (worst imaginable health state) to 100 (best imaginable health state). The U.S. average is 79.2, whereas the participants averaged 71.5 at baseline. 

After completing the yearlong Group Lifestyle Balance program, the participants increased their average health-related quality-of-life score to 78.2. When looking at only those with baseline health-related quality of life below the U.S. average, there was even greater improvement, from 61.8 at baseline to 74. Once scores were adjusted for meeting weight loss and physical activity goals, participants who met the program goals were found to have increased their health-related quality-of-life score by nine more points compared to those participants who met neither program goal.

This article was adapted from information provided by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences.

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