Physical Activity in Prison Essay

Pages: 15 (4156 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 13  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice


, 2011). It was indicated by the results of the study that the prevalence of certain health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease were significantly higher among prisoners than the general population (Voller et al., 2011).

Similar results were obtained by Binswanger et al. (2009), in a study that demonstrated higher risk of several health conditions among prisoners, including hypertension, asthma, and arthritis. Findings indicated that the inmates had a significantly higher rate of chronic health conditions in comparison to the general population even when adjustments were made for major differences in sociodemographic variables and for the consumption levels of alcohol (Binswanger et al., 2009). Considering physical exercise is an important component to effective prevention and treatment for those disorders, this provides evidence supporting the critical necessity for physical activity programming in prisons.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on Physical Activity in Prison the Assignment

The prevalence of chronic medical conditions among prisoners was also assessed in a study conducted by Harzke et al. (2010). These researchers investigated health conditions presented by inmates within the prison system in Texas, and emphasized the importance of further understanding the healthcare needs of prisoners due to the growing population in prisons and the implications chronic medical conditions present as a public health concern (Harzke et al., 2010). The prevalence estimates of disease rates among the inmates indicated that the most commonly experienced health conditions were hypertension, asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, and that one quarter of the inmates in the study had at least one of these medical conditions (Harzke et al., 2010). Furthermore, many inmates were afflicted with more than one of these health conditions necessitating treatment including medications which add up to costly expenses paid for by tax payer dollars. It was expected that as the population in prisons increases both in numbers and in age, so too will the burden placed on health care services within institutions, providing further evidence for the necessity of exercise as an integral part of health and well-being (Harzke et al., 2010). This further illuminates the value that physical activity programs provide in the prison environment as a component to primary health care.

Diabetes is a growing and critical health problem within prisons in the United States. The American Diabetes Association (2008) indicated that there are over 2 million individuals incarcerated in correctional institutions in the United States at any one time, and that approximately 80,000 of these prisoner have diabetes, which represents a prevalence rate equaling 4.8%. It is suggested that the rate of diabetes within prisons will continue to grow exponentially due to increasing prison populations due to growing numbers of aging prisons as a result of changes to current sentencing guidelines, as well as growing incidences of diabetes among younger people (American Diabetes Association, 2008). Therefore, primary care among inmates directed toward diabetes prevention is of the utmost importance. An integral component to this preventive care is exercise, which reduces the risk for the development of diabetes, and any subsequent health problems. Serious health problems that result from diabetes include cardiovascular issues, loss of vision, amputation, and renal failure (American Diabetes Association, 2008).

One significant risk factor for several health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension that is highly prevalent among the prison population in obesity. Rates of obesity and rates of prison incarceration have both dramatically increased in present years in the United States (Leddy et al., 2009). Therefore, it may be deduced that the prison system will contain ever increasing numbers of inmates who are obese and are suffering from or will eventually experience diseases related to obesity (Leddy et al., 2009). It is common for inmates to become obese during incarceration and the rate of inmates developing obesity-related conditions in prison, such as diabetes, is ever increasing (Leddy et al., 2009). The economic and financial effects this will have on prison systems as they adapt to pay for health care services for inmates will be detrimental as costs will continue to rise. It is therefore important that policy makers within the prison system evaluate strategies for disease prevention among inmates, including the implementation of effective physical activity programs. Leddy et al. (2009) indicated that Japanese prison systems could provide a model for preventive care that could be emulated by the United States, in which inmates are given a healthy restrictive diet and must take part in enforced physical activity. These initiatives within Japanese prisons have resulted in improved overall health among inmates (Leddy et al., 2009).

In order to effectively deliver physical activity programming within prisons, it is necessary for accurate health assessments to be carried out with inmates. Assessments should routinely screen inmates for symptoms of chronic medical conditions so that prevention and early intervention strategies can be put into place. Exercise activities should be implemented as a main part of these interventions. Along with the exercise, it would be of benefit for the inmates to receive education surrounding risk factors for prevalent health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, so that there is a clear understanding of the value that exercise brings to overall health and well-being (D'Souza et al., 2005).

The effectiveness of exercise interventions

It is an unfortunate fact that inmates incarcerated in prison often demonstrate poor status of health as well as an increased risk for suffering from chronic conditions that may be debilitating (Perez-Moreno et al., 2007). As noted earlier, Japanese prisons have implemented restrictive dietary programs and enforced physical activity in order to improve the health of inmates through prevention and effective disease management (Leddy et al., 2009). Chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease presently account for approximately 65% of all deaths among the general population worldwide, and these conditions are expected to be responsible for more than 75% of deaths by the year 2030 (Blair et al.,2012). Since the prevalence of these chronic medical conditions is higher among inmates in prison, it may be suggested that the death rate due to these afflictions is even higher among prisoners. Research has established a direct, causal relationship between these chronic health conditions and preventable lifestyle factors, such as the effects exercise has on obesity (Blair et al.,2012).

In particular, diabetes is becoming a growing public health concern both within prisons and in the general population. Exercise is one of the most practical and effective non-pharmacological interventions that diabetes patients can utilize in order to significantly improve levels of blood glucose (Zisser et al., 2011). Specifically, blood glucose levels usually drop significantly both during and after physical exercise (Zisser et al., 2011). This observed drop is due to the body's efficient use of glucose as a fuel during exercise. However, when diabetes patients begin exercise programs, it is necessary to assess nutrition and medications in order to account for the differences in blood glucose that are caused by the physical activity (Zisser et al., 2011). Therefore, although exercise programs for inmates with diabetes are needed and could provide many benefits, it would be necessary to have proper assessment and monitoring of inmates while they exercise to ensure health and safety.

Furthermore, sedentary lifestyle, which is an issue among inmates, has been determined one of the most critical and significant problematic health issues facing society in the twenty-first century (Blair et al.,2012). According to Blair et al. (2012), this statement is undeniable due to the evidence available on the direct and indirect effects that physical activity has on mortality and morbidity from chronic health conditions like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Prison health care services could benefit from the development and implementation of exercise programs such as the one developed by the American Medical Association called Exercise is Medicine (Blair et al.,2012). This initiative was developed in recognition of the primary importance that physical activity has on general health and well-being, as well as disease prevention. The goals of the program are to reduce sedentary lifestyles, introduce exercise counseling as an integral component in clinical practice, and to emphasize the importance of exercise therapy as a valid intervention across several diverse populations (Blair et al.,2012). Researchers stress the importance of exercise intervention as a means to ameliorate chronic diseases that are induced by inactivity and the financial burdens that accompany them. Moreover, prison health care services would reap both health and financial benefits from exercise interventions, and these initiative should therefore be further appreciated and promoted within the prison context (Blair et al.,2012).

What forms could physical activity interventions take that would help promote the health and well-being of prisoners? It may be suggested that behavioral counseling could be effective in delivering education to inmates surrounding the health benefits of exercise. However, the question remains as to how successfully inmates will put into practice the advice heeded through educational initiatives. Results of a study investigating the effectiveness of behavioral counseling in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in the general population may provide a general sense of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Physical Activity in Prison" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Physical Activity in Prison.  (2012, April 4).  Retrieved September 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Physical Activity in Prison."  4 April 2012.  Web.  26 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Physical Activity in Prison."  April 4, 2012.  Accessed September 26, 2021.