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Friday, November 17, 2017

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Want to improve your health? Follow the map
Tammy Moreau and Kathy Gunn
/ Categories: E-Newsletters

Want to improve your health? Follow the map

The Rapides Foundation introduces its Interactive Map of Healthy Activities

Are you looking for opportunities to improve your health? The Rapides Foundation’s interactive map can point you in the right direction.

Studies estimate that as many as 40 percent of premature deaths in the United States are attributed to behavioral factors. The daily choices we make with respect to nutrition, physical activity and other behaviors are all important determinants of health. Unfortunately, Central Louisiana residents have higher rates of obesity than the state and nation. The Rapides Foundation seeks to improve these rates through its Healthy Behaviors Initiative. The initiative addresses important health behaviors including healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco use prevention and control, and substance and alcohol abuse prevention in order to promote health and prevent chronic disease.

According to the 2013 Community Health Assessment conducted by The Rapides Foundation, 73 percent of adults in Central Louisiana are overweight, including 38 percent who are obese. In addition, 21 percent of the region’s children are overweight, compared to the national prevalence of 14 percent.

The Interactive Map of Healthy Activities is making it easier for Central Louisiana individuals and families to get healthy. It lists free fitness and nutrition community assets such as walking trails, playgrounds, fitness stations, community gardens, farmers markets and local producers located in the Foundation’s nine-parish service area of Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn. 

“We understand how development of healthier behaviors can prevent illness and premature death,” said Annette Beuchler, the Foundation’s Director of Programs and Communications. “Our interactive map is designed to show residents more opportunities to make healthy choices in their lives.”

Development of the Interactive Map was partially supported by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Mid-South Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center for Health Disparities project, a National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities-funded initiative.

How it works

The map lists six categories: farmers markets that offer a wide variety of local food, usually open at various times; public walking trails; playgrounds that can be used by the public; fitness stations, which are typically located at or near walking trails; community gardens, which are managed and accessed by local communities; and Fresh Central producers, which consists of farmers who grow, produce or direct market their fresh fruits, vegetables and meats in Central Louisiana.

Visitors to the Interactive Map can look for healthy opportunities by parish, by category or simply by zooming in to specific locations. The map also lists pertinent information for each entry, such as business hours, addresses and people to contact with questions.

The overall goal is for the map to be the go-to place where Central Louisiana residents, as well as visitors to the area, can find healthy things to do and eat.

The Foundation is urging residents to help keep the map up to date by submitting information about healthy assets in their communities. (See accompanying story on how to add a community asset).

To accompany the interactive map, the Foundation’s YouTube channel provides informational videos that show techniques on how to get the most benefit from your walk and physical activity. Nutrition and healthy recipe demonstration videos are also on the channel.

Picking up the Pace of your Walk

The Foundation’s Healthy Behaviors Initiative includes its 5+30 Campaign, which emphasizes the health benefits of eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day and getting 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week. The Foundation’s new #VegTogether campaign recognizes the importance of loading up on veggies at least three times a day, every day.

In addition, the Foundation publishes its monthly Get Healthy Cenla Challenge Calendar as a fun incentive for people who want to get healthy.

“The Rapides Foundation recognizes that regular physical activity and eating a nutritious diet are some of the most important things you can do for your health,” Beuchler said. “By using our interactive map, you’ll be able to find opportunities to get healthy with a simple click.”

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