In New Mexico, nearly half of all adults do not get enough physical activity to provide health benefits, a factor that contributes to 61% of residents being overweight or obese, and complicates the health of an estimated 150,000 people with diabetes. A citizens group in the rural village of Cuba, New Mexico, is using proven strategies to make it easier for residents to increase their physical activity.
In Cuba, New Mexico, a community partnership called the Step Into Cuba Alliance is implementing a plan to promote walking and hiking for health. The Alliance is creating walkways and trails in town and on surrounding federal lands. The program combines evidence-based approaches to increasing people’s physical activity, including access to places to be physically active; communitywide information campaigns about using trails; tailored health programs for individual residents; and social support.
The program includes negotiating policy changes with several levels of government, collaborating with regional non-profit organizations, and adapting to unique community characteristics. Researchers are providing technical assistance, education, and training to implement evidence-based prevention strategies, and to evaluate the relationships and processes that occur as the program develops. Researchers examine the barriers and facilitators to the dissemination and implementation of the recommendations of CDC's The Guide to Community Preventive Services as applied to Step Into Cuba. In collaboration with the Alliance, researchers will use Health Impact Assessments to inform policies and environmental changes that have the potential to increase physical activity and improve health. In addition to technical assistance, education, and training, researchers will also provide assessment and evaluation during the Step Into Cuba program. These activities and the lessons learned from the project will result in a dissemination guide that will help other rural communities to increase physical activity.