New state-wide campaign promotes physical activity

  • Transcript

    Susan Tumbleston; Executive Director, Be Active-Appalachian Partnership: A person needs at least 30 minutes of good physical activity every day. If you can get 45, that's even better. Children need at least 60 minutes a day, because they're growing—they're bones are growing—and so they need a little bit more than adults. However, you can break that 30 minutes up into 10-minute snippets and you get the same health benefit, you get the same good things that you get from physical activity if you break that 30-minute period of time up.

    ST: The different types that people need are some type of endurance work—people call that cardio, typically, if you watch the Biggest Loser, that's cardio—that works your heart. You also need to work on your muscles, so that's some kind of strength work. You need to work on your balance and your flexibility, because that is our way of preventing injuries, particularly as we age, and so we need those two, particulary, as we do our other types of exercise, so we won't hurt ourselves.

    ST: In my opinion, the best form of exercise, probably for endurance, is walking. You can work that into your day in lots of different ways. You can walk to meetings, take a little short walk during lunch, or at the end of the day. But walking is a great way to get your physical activity in.

    ST: What I would suggest is that you consider the different types of activity that you need to do and work those into things that you already are doing.

    ST: For example, if you are watching a TV show, get out your hula-hoop and hula-hoop a little bit, or do your weight work or do your resistance band, or do some flexibility, or some yoga or some stretches. While you're cooking dinner, stand on one leg and work on your balance. Or walk the dog.

    ST: I think it's also important to remember that you have to decide that it's important for you. You're not going to do the physical activity and you're not going to make it part of your day if you don't decide that it's important and it's valuable.

Are you one in a million? The Be Active-Appalachian Partnership wants you to be.

The Be Active-Appalachian Partnership is participating in Be Active North Carolina's statewide Movement for Motion campaign, which strives to get 1 million North Carolinians more active more often by 2015. The campaign asks North Carolinians to make a commitment to devote 30 minutes each day to being physically active. It also seeks to implement greater policy and environmental changes that promote physical activity.

The organizations hope that through individual behavior change, North Carolina can reduce the human and financial costs of sedentary lifestyles.

Why it's important

North Carolina has the 10th highest rate of adult obesity in the country, and the 11th highest rate for children, according to Be Active North Carolina, a leading physical activity organization in the United States that is based in Morrisville.

Appalachian State University began addressing the problem with Be Active North Carolina in 2005, with support from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, after an economic impact study revealed that obesity costs the state $57 billion each year in health care costs and lost productivity. Together, they formed the Be Active-Appalachian Partnership to enhance opportunities for individuals to increase their physical activity in the western part of the state. Since then, the state's total costs related to obesity have dropped to $54 billion a year, according to a 2011 follow-up study.

The Be Active-Appalachian Partnership serves a 28-county region by collaborating with more than 75 organizations—from county health departments, senior centers and school systems, to state parks and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. Carolyn Ward, president and chief operating officer of Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, which raises money for the parkway and its many recreational activities, said, "Be Active is wonderful about securing partners and others around the state to help leverage what they do. It's a great fit for us."

The partnership has been so successful in changing lives that Be Active totally changed its organizational structure to replicate the partnership model statewide and recently formed a second regional partnership with UNC-Greensboro to serve the Triad region of North Carolina.

What the partnership does

The Be Active-Appalachian Partnership exists to get the people of western North Carolina moving. By helping local and regional organizations learn to be more impactful in physical activity programming and providing resources and support to facilitate physical activity initiatives for all age groups, the partnership plays an integral role in:

  • Serving as a primary partner with the Appalachian District Health Department and State of North Carolina in the CDC-funded project "Communities Putting Prevention to Work," which serves Ashe, Alleghany and Watauga counties
  • Training public schools and childcare teachers how to add brief moments of physical activity throughout the school day to keep children active and alert, as well as how to better utilize the outdoors to increase activity
  • Leading seniors in balance- and strength-increasing activities
  • Lending fitness equipment such as body mass index analyzers, scales and blood pressure cuffs to community partners and physical activity equipment through its Resource Lending Library to teachers, camps, churches and childcare centers; a recent $5,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation will fund the purchase of equipment for pre-schoolers
  • Sponsoring research by Appalachian faculty on health-related topics
  • Partnering with state parks to emphasize greater physical activity through outdoor recreation

New projects being implemented by the Be Active-Appalachian Partnership to children, college students and older adults include:

MATCH program

Motivating Adolescents with Technology to Choose Health is an opportunity for 7th graders to participate in a fitness program tied to their academic curriculum. MATCH has already been successful in eastern North Carolina where students improved their test scores as well as their body mass index. The partnership will pilot the project in an area school, the first outside Pitt County and surrounding area.

Active Living

One of 19 residential learning communities offered to Appalachian State University freshmen, Active Living supports incoming students in staying physically fit. Freshmen live together in a residence hall, enroll together in a special section of First Year Seminar and participate in fitness-related activities on campus and in the community.

Eat Better, Move More, Age Well

This program, known as EMMA, targets senior adults and provides assistance in nutrition, mobility and fall prevention. It already has been successful in Buncombe County and will be piloted at Watauga County's Council on Aging Senior Center this fall.

Community Health and Mobility Partnership (CHAMP)

Winner of the 2010 Outstanding County Program Award from the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, CHAMP is a two- year collaboration project in McDowell County that focuses on preventing falls in older adults. The initiative was spearheaded by UNC Chapel Hill's Dr. Vicki Mercer in 2010. The partnership assumes administrative oversight of the project in January 2012, with plans to pilot the project in other western counties.

The Be Active-Appalachian Partnership is housed in Appalachian's Institute for Health and Human Services, which is part of the College of Health Sciences.