If you saw the advertisement on late night TV, you would not believe the claims.
Improve your cardio vascular system! Alleviate depression! Improve your skin! Lose weight! Strengthen your bones!
I’m talking about exercise — with benefits that are wide-ranging and scientifically proven. If exercise were a pill, it would be a blockbuster.
But while we don’t have an exercise pill, we do have our new and improved Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC) Toolkit — almost like prescriptions for better population health. They are tools your organization can use in partnership with local communities and they fall into four categories: Physical Health and Nutrition; Environment and Health; Education and Health; and Arts and Health. We include a guide indicating which tools are appropriate for youth, seniors, the workplace — or for the overall community. And there’s a new video on how to get started. Each Tool cites the evidence behind the activity and additional resources.
We’re thankful to United Health Foundation for funding the project. Please take a look and put your community in motion.
Mayors around New Jersey are using the Toolkit to create local health improvement programs. They’re creating greener cities and towns, leading walks and runs, and towns are organizing free health screenings, yoga on the beach and free self-defense classes.
The Tools are not just for just for mayors. Employers, health plans and health care providers can use them to advance their work in population health and create healthier communities.
The stakes are high for New Jersey. Nearly 30 percent of adults in our state reported no physical activity or exercise (other than their regular job) in the past 30 days, ranking us 46 out of 50 on this measure. That’s not where we want to be.
The data come from United Health Foundation’s 28th annual America’s Health Rankings Report, the longest-running assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis. The 2017 Annual Report reviews 35 measures on health outcomes, covering behaviors, community and environment, policy, clinical care and outcomes data.
The MWC Toolkit can help us get more of our residents off the couch. It includes advice on how communities can take advantage of the outdoors through cycling and hiking programs; how to create “walking school buses”; how to improve nutrition in our schools and homes. And there are real and inspiring examples — from Bay Head’s annual Sunset Paddle on Twilight Lake to Hillsborough’s community garden that grows produce for the local food pantry.
Below you’ll see a chart comparing our physical activity with the national average. I know that together we can create a new path forward.