Programs: Governor’s Council on Fitness | Blue and You Fitness Challenge | Built Environment | Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention (ARCOP)
The Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Branch (CDPCB) works to implement environmental strategies, programs and policies to support healthy behaviors for all Arkansans. All physical activity initiatives collaborate with built environment, worksite wellness and related CDPCB domain priorities to ensure a comprehensive approach to fitness.
Guided by the philosophy that both exercise and incidental physical activity – such as walking a dog, using a stairway or walking to school – are essential to fitness, CDPCB’s Healthy Communities Domain encourages residents to incorporate exercise into everyday routines. We believe a combination of environmental, systematic and personal lifestyle changes can help Arkansans achieve national guidelines for physical activity.
Through initiatives like the Arkansas Governor’s Council on Fitness, CDPCB’s physical activity programs encourage all individuals to participate in physical activity regardless of age, body type, weight, or abilities. Physical activity reduces risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers, while increasing bone strength, muscle strength and a positive mood. Results from the National Weight Control Registry indicate that individuals who lose and then maintain a healthy weight are far more likely to exercise regularly. Ninety-four percent of registry participants increased their physical activity in order to lose weight, with 90 percent reporting they currently exercise about one hour daily in order to maintain their weight status. More information on the registry is available at http://www.nwcr.ws/research/.
Blue and You Fitness Challenge
Every spring, the Healthy Communities Domain encourages employees, schools and worksites across the state to increase cardiovascular activity by means of the Blue and You Fitness Challenge. For a three-month period, March 1 - May 31, individuals and teams exercise along a virtual map of the United States through 30 checkpoints. In order to complete the challenge, participants must exercise at least three times per week. For more information, or to get involved, visit the Blue and You Fitness Challenge website.
The “built environment” refers to structures, surroundings, buildings, infrastructure and spaces constructed by humans. A well-designed built environment can influence health, safety, and economic development by making healthy choices convenient for residents.
Results of Improving Built Environment
Health - Communities with bicycle lanes, sidewalks, healthy food venues and outdoor recreation areas provide residents with a built environment which makes healthy choices easier. Neighborhoods with schools, libraries, parks and neighborhood grocery stores within walking or biking distance encourage physical activity and decrease reliance on automobiles. In contrast, residents of communities without policies that promote a healthy built environment may find physical activity – such as cycling to work or walking to school – difficult or unsafe.
Safety - In addition to promoting physical activity, communities can increase public safety through changes to the built environment. Complete street policies, traffic-calming roundabouts and sidewalks are all part of a community’s built environment that calm traffic and decrease automobile congestion. Communities with vibrant downtowns and gathering spots invite citizens to mingle and increase a sense of safety and community.
Economic Development - The built environment of a business district can produce economic growth. North Little Rocks’ Argenta District is an example of how positive changes to the built environment can spur economic growth. Located just off the River City Trail, the Argenta built environment will impact the economic development by slowing traffic down in front of businesses and producing a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere for shoppers.
Education Materials Available from the Arkansas Department of Health
Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention (ARCOP)
The Healthy Communities Domain provides guidance, support and expertise to the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention. This partnership enhances ARCOP’s mission to improve the health of all Arkansas communities by increasing physical activity, healthy eating and obesity prevention. Projects focus on the Growing Healthy Communities (GHC) initiative, which brings together individuals, companies and organizations to recognize that a healthy community is a better community on virtually every measure of success.
Focus areas include assistance and leadership for the following ARCOP Workgroup teams: Built Environment
– Built Environment Includes walkability assessments and technical assistance to communities wishing to improve walkability and bikeabilty. Access to Healthy Foods
– Works to increase availability of healthy foods, including support and assistance for farmers’ market placement and sustainability. Worksite Wellness –
Maintains a best-practice resource toolkit for employers and provides technical assistance to worksites striving to reduce obesity and chronic disease through physical activity and other health programs.
Physical Activity Resources
Recommended Resources for Educators