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Be Active Your Way Blog

February Blog Theme

February marks another milestone in the movement for a healthier generation - the 3rd year anniversary of the Let's Move! campaign. This month, Be Active Your Way bloggers will reflect on work that has been done to combat childhood obesity, as well as the road ahead.

To celebrate the Anniversary of Let's Move!, you'll hear from:

Creating Walkable Communities

by ODPHP October 27, 2010
People walking on a street by Andy Hamilton

Intuitively it makes sense that creating more walkable communities will help meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines from Americans because walking is the most frequent form of Physical activity.  I wondered whether walkability makes a difference and which communities have tackled this issue.  I got curious about this and did a search to find out more. 


My first stop was to look into whether community design makes a difference in increasing physical activity rates.  I visited The Community Guide for Preventive Services Web site where I learned that their research confirmed the increase in community members’ physical activity levels after land use policies are put into place at the community level and even at the street level!


I also noticed that progress is being made towards meeting the Healthy People 2010 objective to increase the proportion of trips made by walking.  For adults, the objective was to increase from the baseline of 17% in 1995 to 25 percent.  As of 2001, this measure had increased to 21%.


How timely! Just when my curiosity was aroused, a colleague told me about the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center’s new recognition program, Walk Friendly Communities with applications opening November first. 


Even more fascinating, the PBIC has a search tool that you can use to find examples of policies and changes implemented in cities across the country to improve walkability.  Their Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center also Case Study Compendium includes dozens of examples of communities with pedestrian and bicycle projects and programs.  Planning pedestrian programs ranged from the City of Charlotte North Carolina’s Commitment to the Pedestrian Program to a Traffic Calming Guidelines project in Sacramento, California.


My next stop was to visit the CDC’s Healthy Places Web page and browse the recent CDC community design report issued in April that illustrated the importance of taking public health, including physical activity, into account when creating the built environment.  The report included five case studies of communities that illustrate best practices in community design to support good health.  One of these communities, Lakewood, Colorado, is paying particular attention to walkability as it develops the Belmar Project, a pedestrian centered residential and retail area.


In this same report, Bill Gilchrist, a member of the American Institute of Architects, working with Miami-Dade County, briefed participants in this expert workshop on his urban design work with them.  He commented that when the environment is healthier, there is a more economically thriving community.  Interestingly, Gilchrist noted the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Community Economic Development report The Economic Benefit of a Walkable Community that highlighted several economic benefits of a more walkable community and ways to make communities more walkable.  


Last summer, HHS hosted a Webinar on June 15th for Physical Activity Guidelines Supporters.  As part of the Webinar Nicole Rioles, Campaign Coordinator discussed Shape Up Somerville, a Massachusetts citywide campaign to increase daily physical activity and healthy eating. The campaign includes a number of interventions including walkability and safe routes to schools.


Now, I’m even more curious to learn from you.  What is your community doing to build a healthy community that is more walkable?


Tags: ,

Environmental Interventions

Program Spotlight

by ODPHP October 26, 2010


This week we would like to spotlight the "Physical Activity. The Arthritis Pain Reliever" campaign which aims to increase physical activity among men and women with arthritis.

The Program Basics

"Physical Activity. The Arthritis Pain Reliever" is designed to:

• Raise awareness of physical activity as a way to manage arthritis pain and increase function

• Increase understanding of how to use physical activity (types and duration) to ease arthritis symptoms and prevent further disability

• Enhance the confidence of persons with arthritis so that they can be physically active

• Increase trial of physical activity behaviors

Messages are added or edited based on research including making sure that it is congruent with the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. In Wisconsin, implementation includes the health communication campaign with targeted print and community event outreach including health fairs, bus stop posters, and billboards.

Measuring Success

The Wisconsin Arthritis Program measures program success by impressions or the number of people that have been exposed to the campaign message. Radio spots, billboards, bus benches, posters, print ads and bookmarks are all utilized to communicate the campaign message to as many individuals as possible.

In May 2010, the Wisconsin Arthritis Program conducted the health communication campaign, including statewide radio advertising with targeted print and community event outreach in several select counties; Milwaukee, Marathon, and Wood.  The Program was highly successful in delivering over 35 million impressions of the message to adults over the age of 40 living in Wisconsin.


As Julie Dotson mentioned, "It can be time consuming to establish partnerships within a particular community prior to beginning a campaign." The Wisconsin Arthritis Program invested 6 months prior to campaign implementation into making contacts and establishing partnerships within the community. Dotson also mentioned that it was a challenge to make sure that the program aligned with prominent community leaders that were identified by members of the community. The Program learned that selecting the right individuals to serve on a planning committee or spearhead an effort is crucial to the campaigns ultimate success.

Implementing a Similar Program in Your Community

Partnering with community based organizations that frequently serve the population that you are trying to reach is essential. The Wisconsin Arthritis Program found that building rapport with the community through trusted partners was a very strong foundation on which to implement the campaign and spread the message regarding the importance of physical activity for persons with arthritis. The Program also found tremendous success in participating in community sponsored events like health fairs.

Building a Healthier Community: Helping Those Who Help Us

by APTA October 20, 2010

A frequently forgotten segment of our community are the public servants who keep our cities running well and safely.  If we don’t hear from them we assume everything is okay.  But if they aren’t functioning well our cities and our safety may suffer. What better place to start building a healthier community than by helping those who help us, our public servants?

Being interested in the health and wellbeing of our communities, there are many levels at which we may begin to make a positive difference in the lives of our public servants. Here is an example of supporting physical activity efforts ― progressive guidelines used by physical therapists in Florida to incorporate physical activity into their community - Evaluation, Education, and Integration.

Evaluation – Look for occasions to assess and evaluate levels of physical fitness in the public servants in your city.  This can open doors for exercise prescription according to the Physical Activity Guidelines.  For instance, employment screenings and training assessments are a part of many public servants’ jobs.  Research indicates that physical activity is beneficial to mental, emotional, and physical health and wellbeing.  Physical activity also results in improved work-site morale, increased productivity, and decreased worker compensation claims.
These are just a few benefits to both the employer and employee that make living an active, well lifestyle appealing.

St. Johns County Fire-Rescue Job Function Training assessment
St. Johns County Fire-Rescue Job Function Training assessment.

Education- Look for the opportunities to educate your “local leaders” on the value and importance of living an active, well lifestyle.  Brown Bag lunch series are often conducted by various departments to provide instruction and incentive to the employees.  Most public servants are required to attend mandatory in-service trainings, so consider becoming a part of the in-service curriculum by adding a wellness/physical activity component. As movement experts, physical therapists are uniquely qualified to serve as consultants on a variety of physical wellness issues, not only including rehabilitation, but also wellness and prevention.

Mandatory Wellness In-Service Block Training for county law enforcement.
Mandatory Wellness In-Service Block Training for county law enforcement.

Integration- Face-to-face group instruction is great, but not always possible.  Think about alternate modes of delivering information on ways that public servants may integrate physical activity and wellness into their lifestyles.  Develop a CD/DVD they can keep in their Human Resource department that they can access at any time.  Better yet, make physical activity a part of the community and invite them to attend.  Organize a community event, a 5 K run/walk, a family fun day, or the like....include everyone. You will be surprised at what this can do for the entire city.

Family Fun Day/5K hosted annually at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, St. Augustine, FL
Family Fun Day/5K hosted annually at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, St. Augustine, FL.

As you begin to implement some of these ideas remember:

Public servants will need to know why they need physical activity in their lives. EVALUATE them to establish a need and give them a “why”. Then, EDUCATE them on how to be physically active and well. Finally, INTEGRATE physical activity into their lives and the community.  As you prepare to help those who help us consider:

  1. What can you do to Evaluate, Educate and/or Integrate physical activity for your public servants and community?
  2. Do you have staff or employees within your organization qualified to begin these strategies?  If not, can you hire a consultant? Physical therapists are uniquely qualified to integrate movement and physical activity for both rehabilitation and wellness.


Written by guest bloggers: Lisa A. Chase, PhD, PT; Megann Schooley, PT, DPT, MTC, CSCS

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