Wellness professionals know well the challenge of encouraging their clients to make preventative health a priority. Some cities and regions across the US, however, are making this uphill battle an easier one through the introduction of community improvements that encourage healthy lifestyle changes and accessible resources.
Broward County, Florida, for example, recently undertook a health focused initiative that invested city resources to improve the safety and accessibility of walking paths, biking routes, and public transportation to make healthy choices easier for their 700,000 residents. Closer to home, in Somerville, MA, a program entitled “Shape Up Somerville” has gained national acclaim for their centralized efforts to improve the health of their population through city planning around community gardens and vast outdoor activity networks, as well as easy access to affordable health and wellness resources both on their website and through community outreach and events.
The Million Hearts Initiative was launched by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2012 with the mission of preventing heart attacks and strokes and the specific aim to prevent 1 million cardiovascular events over a five-year period. According to the MHI website, “heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill over 800,000 Americans each year, accounting for one in every three deaths.” Aligning 120 official partners and 20 federal agencies, this initiative is centered around the belief that through preventative health measures, Americans can (and will!) live longer and healthier lives.
What improvements would you like to see in your community to encourage preventative health? What specific measures would be most helpful to you or your clients?