Availability of free fitness classes leads to increased activity levels
To combat rising obesity rates the Brazilian government created the Academia des Citades program giving residents free access to fitness facilities and fitness instructors. The program increased some of the participants odds of reaching the World Health Organisation's recommended levels of physical activity by up to 900%.
The program which began in 2002 in Recife, the capital of the Brazilian state Pernambuco, has expanded to 184 other cities in the same state. In 2011 the Brazilian Ministry of Health adopted a modified version of the program known as Health Academies and has since expanded the program to thousands of cities nationwide.
City academies are run for free by trained instructors every weekday morning and evening. The classes are held in renovated, beautiful public spaces such as parks and plazas. Participants are screened for hypertension and obesity and are referred if needed to local public health programs. Additionally participants are provided with free dietary guidance and advice.