It is fairly understood that staying active goes a long way in reducing obesity and related diseases (diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, etc.) as well as the emotional benefits of staying physically fit. As much as public health studies have shown the impact of simple movement, such as walking, to greatly improve health – sometimes there are other barriers to getting this done than just “get up and move”. The environment in which people live is constantly linked to important statistics such as life expectancy
Earlier this month, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss health journalism and the impact of new media on the field. While getting insight and thoughts from a great group of health/medical bloggers, a story came up that highlighted the difference a group of people can make in their community. An inspirational story that once again shows the need for individual and group effectiveness in changing public health landscapes.
Three years ago, a group of moms who decided to begin walking in their community, were met with several barriers to a safe and enjoyable atmosphere. This included aggressive pets and physically unsafe walking conditions. This is not uncommon in areas that are close to or inside of cities. An individual might have just given up and decided not to walk in that area – but the collective thoughts of these determined mothers gave way to action.
Through unified efforts to bring other community members, police, parks & recreation officials and other urban planning entities into their frustration (and more importantly solutions) – the Greenfield Walking Group were catalysts to change in their environment. This course of action has led to “walkability” improvement measures in other communities.
From the article:
In Stiern Park, the broken lights have been replaced, graffiti and dogs removed. Police surveillance and maintenance efforts have increased. And now the members of the walking group have learned the numbers to call and people to talk to if further problems arise.
To me, this story of change makes it even clearer that in order for positive public health changes to happen in communities, there needs to be a sense of urgency and benefit instilled in the minds of the people.
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