INDIANAPOLIS—National Public Health Week wraps up today with an important message to empower a healthy community. Individual health and community health go hand-in-hand. Where individuals have access to health tools, knowledge and opportunities, improved community health follows. A resilient, well-supported public health system provides these necessary resources.
“It’s been a great National Public Health Week so far,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “Each of the daily themes were designed to help people understand exactly what public health is and its value. Nowhere is that value more evident than in the community setting, so today’s theme of Empowering a Healthy Community is a great lesson to end the week.”
There are many ways public health efforts positively affect Hoosiers, such as by providing access to fluoridated water, which can reduce tooth decay by up 25 percent, and protecting children and adults from infectious diseases by making immunizations available.
Providing information and guidance about healthy eating, physical activity and injury prevention are key components of public health. Health and wellness initiatives are often driven by local health departments and other public health partners. These efforts are aimed at improving quality and length of life and reducing the burden of health care costs on society. For example, if 10 percent of adults began regularly walking, $5.6 billion in heart disease costs could be averted. And a sustained 10 percent weight loss could reduce an overweight person's lifetime medical costs by up to $5,300 by lowering the costs linked to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and high cholesterol.
“It’s amazing how far a little physical activity can go toward your overall health and wellness,” said Dr. VanNess. “Adding a few small extra steps into your day by parking far away from an entrance or choosing the stairs over the elevator adds up. You can gradually work your way up to more challenging activities, like Zumba, swimming, yoga or running. Have fun with exercise.”
Here are some ways to help your community become empowered:
· Join your Neighborhood Watch program.
· Inquire about volunteer opportunities at community health centers.
· Take part in national health observances, such as National HIV Testing Day, National Youth Violence Prevention Week and National Minority Health Month.
· Support smoke-free policies; visit www.QuitNowIndiana.com to learn more.
· Partner with state and local parks and recreational facilities to increase access to safe places to be outside and physically active.
· Work with local authorities to initiate violence intervention and prevention efforts.
· Reach out to health care professionals and discuss community health and prevention efforts.
· Create a local health movement. Start a healthy food co-op, organize a canning circle, gather a walking group or form a club dedicated to volunteering.
To learn more about National Public Health Week, visit www.nphw.org.
For more information about the Indiana State Department of Health, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov.
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