Where Do I Start? A resource for the new health programmer.

January 27, 2017

In a previous post we shared a public service announcement that featured famed cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, expressing his concerns on the growing obesity epidemic. Hawking suggests that as a whole people need to move more and eat less. While this is a powerful and motivational video the question of implementation was still left open to consideration. How do we encourage people to eat less and move more? Many people think that they need to radically change their lifestyle in order to attain significant benefits. This concept of radically changing their lifestyle often discourages individuals from pursuing healthier lifestyles.

For those of us connected to organizations, such as the National Recreation Foundation, we have access to a supportive, influential, and encouraging community to assist in delivering health changes. Many large programs, which focus on encouraging physical activity and healthy eating among their participants, are run by teams of experts in the field of community health or professional public health initiative developers. While we are grateful and celebrate the work of these programs and their administrators, what about small programs that are just starting or individuals who are looking to make an impact in terms of the health of their communities? Even if individuals have no prior experience in the area of physical activity outcomes there are a multitude of resources available, which offer ideas, forums, literature, networking platforms, etc. to assist these young programs. The CDC in particular offers several excellent resources.

The CDC Guide to Strategies to Increase Physical Activity in the Community is an excellent publication from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that according to the guide document, “provides guidance for program managers, policy makers, and others on how to select strategies to increase physical activity in the community.” The guide offers ten strategies to improve health outcomes for communities. Strategies include community wide programs, point of decision prompts, enhancing school-based physical education, urban design and land use policies, and active transport to schools. In addition the guide provides rationale for each strategy, evidence of effectiveness, key considerations, next steps, example programs, and a list of additional resources. This is a wonderful resource for the new or evolving community health programmer.

A link to a PDF of the guide is copied below: