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Iowan's Fit for Life

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In Your Community

What Makes a Community Healthy?

There are many factors that affect people's physical, mental, social and financial well-being, which in turn affects their health. Having access to the following things helps make a community healthy:

  • grocery stores selling healthy foods and farmers' markets
  • parks, playgrounds, recreational trails and sporting complexes
  • support from local government
  • school wellness policies
  • faith based nutrition and physical activity programs
  • safe sidewalk systems
  • reliable public transportation
  • available health care
  • safe & walkable neighborhoods

With these things in place, people that live in the community will be likely to live healthier lives. Learn more about:

Resources to assist with improving the nutrition and physical activity environment in your community:

Walking With a Purpose  Adobe Acrobat Logo is available to assist communities as they assess walkability. The tool was developed for community members to help make routes to community destinations more walkable. The tool gives ideas on where to complete the assessment, community members to invite to the assessment, a walkability checklist, discussion questions, what to do after the walk, and resources.

During 2011, nine YMCAs and BASICS contractors utilized the Iowans Fit for Life Walking with a Purpose walkability assessment tool. Read their success stories below.

Ankeny YMCA Louisa County
Des Moines, Grubb YMCA Monroe County
Forest City YMCA Polk County
Scott County YMCA Pottawattamie County
Waukee YMCA

Read the six-month follow up report  Adobe Acrobat Logo for these projects to see what has changed.

In the spring of 2010, 15 community wellness grantees and BASICS contractors utilized the Iowans Fit for Life Walking with a Purpose walkability assessment tool. Read their success stories!

Mills County Cerro Gordo County
Sioux County Hancock County
Dallas County Jefferson County
Decatur County Van Buren County
Adams County Poweshiek County
Cass County Ringgold County
Washington County Eastern Iowa Community College
Wayne County  

Read the walkability six-month follow up report  Adobe Acrobat Logo Seven communities also took advantage of their walkability assessment and moved the project forward even further.

Walking with a Purpose for Schools is now available to help schools and children identify ways that their route to school could be more walkable. The tool gives ideas on where to complete the assessment, community members to invite to the assessment, a walkability checklist, discussion questions, what to do after the walk, potential class projects to consider, and resources.

In the Spring of 2012, eight local public health agencies utilized Walking with a Purpose. Read the six-month follow up report  Adobe Acrobat Logo on what has happened in their communities since the assessments.

Nutrition and Physical Activity Asset Mapping can be used to help your community identify strengths and areas for improvement for nutrition and physical activity.

Community Action Plan  Adobe Acrobat Logo - a sample action plan for your community to use for putting together action steps for nutrition and physical activity

Policy Ideas for your community  Adobe Acrobat Logo - make your community projects stronger and more sustainable by adding policy components.

Complete Streets are designed with all users (pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, vehicles), ages and abilities in mind. The Iowa Bicycle Coalition has developed an Iowa specific guide on complete streets strategies.

There is a growing international movement to improve safe routes to school. These routes increase safety and promote walking and bicycling to school through the "5Es: engineering, education, enforcement, encouragement, and evaluation." In addition there are also lots of no-cost or low-cost Safe Routes to School projects your community can do to improve the walking and biking environment. Visit the Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission's site for a printable version of the no-cost or low-cost projects or other safe routes to school resources.

What's Happening in Your Community? We would love to know!

We want to know about upcoming activities or steps your community is taking towards health to share on our website. Please contact Sarah Taylor Watts from Iowa Department of Public Health at 515-242-6709. We look forward to hearing how you are getting your community to be active and to eat smart.