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Rural Project Examples: Physical activity

Effective Examples

LIFE - Living (well through) Intergenerational Fitness and Exercise
Updated/reviewed December 2018
  • Need: Older adults in rural Iowa have inadequate access to physical activity specialists and/or exercise facilities, which limits their ability to remain sufficiently active.
  • Intervention: Iowa State University implemented an intergenerational "exergaming" program to encourage fun and safe physical fitness among rural older adults.
  • Results: Pilot studies showed that older adults demonstrated increases in strength, flexibility, activity levels, and confidence in their ability to be physically active. Younger adults experienced reduced ageism and increased knowledge and expectations of aging.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Trinity Hospital Twin City's Fit for Life
Updated/reviewed November 2018
  • Need: To reduce obesity among adults in rural east central Ohio.
  • Intervention: Fit for Life Replication Project for Expansion was developed to make it possible to lose weight through practicing healthier lifestyle behaviors.
  • Results: Out of the 443 adults who have completed the program, 81% experienced weight loss, a tangible result of the program's overarching goal to enhance levels of health and fitness.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Youth4Health
Updated/reviewed December 2019
  • Need: To educate youth about obesity and healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Intervention: An educational program about healthy living was implemented in Lincoln and Claiborne Parishes in Louisiana for youth ages 9-18.
  • Results: Youth4Health program produced greater awareness and participation in healthier lifestyles by target youth and their families, as well as church congregations.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Healthy Early Learning Project (HELP)
Updated/reviewed May 2019
  • Need: An ongoing health need to alleviate early childhood obesity in the rural Kansas counties of Marshall and Nemaha.
  • Intervention: 5 distinct physical and nutritional programs were introduced to 9 preschool sites through the overarching Healthy Early Learning Project (HELP).
  • Results: HELP comprehensively increased children's physical activity and healthy food consumption and established a sustainable presence at each preschool site.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy From CATCH to C.H.E.F.
Updated/reviewed January 2019
  • Need: To help children and families in Lincoln, rural Benton, and east Linn counties achieve higher-quality lives free of preventable diseases related to poor nutrition and obesity.
  • Intervention: Two programs were applied on a local level to provide physical activity, nutrition, and culinary education in a school and community setting.
  • Results: The physical activity rate surpassed the Department of Health and Human Services recommended rate by 5%, and schools started serving healthier options in their cafeterias.
Health Motivator Program
Updated/reviewed July 2018
  • Need: To increase physical activity and other healthy habits for older adults in West Virginia.
  • Intervention: Community members called Health Motivators lead senior centers and community groups in a monthly educational activity.
  • Results: In a 2016 survey, 97% of Health Motivators and 92% of group members said that their health improved because of the program.

Other Project Examples

Bike Ajo
Added September 2019
  • Need: To increase physical activity in rural Arizona.
  • Intervention: The Bike Ajo Coalition developed a comprehensive bicycle program for adults and youth, which provides bicycle helmets, repairs, community rides, an after-school bike program, and education.
  • Results: Community members have volunteered to become League-Certified Cycling Instructors, and 24 people are interested in joining the Bike Ajo Coalition.
Albert Lea Blue Zones Project
Updated/reviewed August 2018
  • Need: Healthy lifestyles are often difficult to achieve for community members of rural, small-town areas.
  • Intervention: The rural community of Albert Lea, as part of the Blue Zones Pilot Project, implemented walking and biking initiatives along with high-level policy systems and environmental changes to promote health and wellness.
  • Results: In the past 5 years, there has been a 38% increase in walking and biking among community members, and they have lost a combined total of 8,000 pounds.
The Walking Classroom
Updated/reviewed May 2018
  • Need: To help improve students' ability to learn while engaging in physical activity.
  • Intervention: Through The Walking Classroom, students learn from a variety of 20-minute podcasts several times per week while walking.
  • Results: Children increase their activity level while learning academic content, building health literacy, and developing healthy lifestyle habits to prevent obesity and improve cognitive functioning.
Walk with a Doc in Klamath Falls
Updated/reviewed January 2018
  • Need: To give people an incentive to walk for exercise.
  • Intervention: A national program called Walk with a Doc was adopted by Klamath Falls, Oregon that invites community members to walk with their local doctor and simultaneously get answers to their health-related questions.
  • Results: Patients continue to faithfully attend and engage in intentional health-focused conversation during the weekly walks.