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School & Program Updates

Iowa: Partnership Encourages Citizens to Get More Active

Active Ottumwa is a partnership between the city of Ottumwa, Iowa, and the Prevention Research Center at the University of Iowa College of Public Health that is designed to get more Ottumwans moving.

Working with numerous local organizations, Active Ottumwa promotes healthy lifestyles by creating and encouraging more research-tested physical activity opportunities for adults. Dr. Edith Parker, dean of the College of Public Health and director of the Prevention Research Center, says the program offers an array of activities every week to improve peoples’ health.

The outreach is part of a research project funded in part by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a model that communities can use to improve the physical fitness of their residents. In particular, the CDC’s goal is to help communities with poor scores on public health measures such as obesity, smoking rates, teen pregnancy, and physical activity.

Dr. Parker says Ottumwa was chosen because Wapello County — of which it is the seat — historically ranks low on the Robert Wood Johnson County Health Rankings for overall health outcomes in Iowa. A community health survey conducted by the Prevention Research Center in 2013 found 55 percent of Ottumwa residents were classified as sedentary, or engaged in little to no physical activity on a regular basis. Less than 1 percent of residents engaged in regular, vigorous physical activity.

Ottumwa also was chosen because local leaders know this lack of fitness is a serious community health problem and have made solving it a priority.

“It’s a community where there are health needs, and a proactive and engaged leadership that was committed to working with us to fill those needs,” Dr. Parker says.

Read full story in Iowa Now.

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