Across the country, health clinics and hospitals are writing prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables, offering fitness challenges, sponsoring healthy cooking classes and providing farm to hospital programs.
Here’s a run-down of some of the creative exercise and healthy eating programs aimed at preventing chronic conditions like heart disease and stemming the obesity epidemic — statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than one-third of Americans were obese between 2011 and 2014.
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Older adults (55+) can get their blood pressure monitored, use exercise equipment, attend strength-building classes, and swim, all for free, at the Citizens Memorial Hospital’s Senior Health Center in Bolivar, Missouri. Also offered are educational programs on a range of health conditions, an arthritis/fibromyalgia self-help course, and aquafit and Tai Chi classes targeted to those with arthritis.
Wholesome Wave launched its innovative Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program so that healthcare providers could “prescribe” healthy fruits and vegetables to families. One such food prescription program is Produce Plus, which gives low-income residents in the District of Columbia incentives to buy fruit and veggies at farmer’s markets.
Participants in the award-winning Grand Health Challenge program have lost a total of more than 30,000 lbs. over the past 10 years. Sponsored by the Grand Lake Health System in St. Marys, Ohio, the program encourages residents to adopt healthier diets, participate in exercise classes and attend motivational meetings. Teams of participants can compete for cash prizes of up to $1,000.
At the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital in Oakland, Michigan, organic eggplant, strawberries and tomatoes are grown on-site by a resident farmer. Produce from the Greenhouse Program is used to feed patients as well as to educate the public about healthy cooking. Kids’ cooking classes, field trips, gardening therapy for patients, and relaxation and yoga classes are all part of the program.
Individuals as well as teams can participate in Lighten Up Onslow, a free weight loss program run by the Onslow Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The hospital also delivers a comprehensive website that includes cooking videos, healthy recipes, exercise videos, a listing of local events and a personalized food and physical activity tracker.
Another inventive program is St. Joseph Hoag Health‘s Shop with Your Doc campaign. Last fall, a dietitian and family doctor were on-site at Ralphs’ supermarkets in Orange County, California, answering questions and advising shoppers on healthy foods to stock up on as well as what products to avoid.
Trinity Hospital, which is also based in Ohio, aims to reduce the number of overweight and obese people in Carroll, Guernsey, Harrison and Tuscarawas, counties with its customized 12-week Twin City Fit for Life Program. This diet and exercise program can also be brought to the workplace.
Have you had any experience with prescription food programs for seniors? Share your stories with us in the comments below.