AMES, Iowa — January marks the start of a new Live Healthy Iowa 10 Week Challenge. The annual team-based weight loss and physical activity program encourages Iowans to make lifestyle changes to improve their health. This year the challenge is adding two new features to increase individual awareness of nutrition and physical activity behaviors and to provide research-based education on general nutrition topics.
Registration is now open for the 2013 Live Healthy Iowa 10 Week Challenge, which begins Jan. 28. To register go to www.LiveHealthyIowa.org.
Live Healthy Iowa has encouraged health and wellness through its Wellness Challenge for more than 10 years, said Sarah Francis, an Iowa State University assistant professor and ISU Extension and Outreach nutrition specialist. It’s a partnership of the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Sports Foundation and ISU Extension and Outreach.
Awareness is essential to making lifestyle changes, Francis said. “First we must know what our ‘problem areas’ are so that we can make appropriate modifications.”
To assist with this effort, for the first time since its start, Live Healthy Iowa is offering free online nutrition and physical activity assessments, Francis explained. The assessments are being provided through the Community Transformation Grant Program administered through the Iowa Department of Public Health. These free pre- and post- assessments will be made available to 1,500 randomly selected Live Healthy Iowa participants.
Selected participants will complete the online Block “Alive” Screener and the Block Adult Physical Activity Screener. Those who complete the assessment will receive a nutrition report that provides detailed information about where their nutrients are coming from; their average intake of trans fat, saturated fat, dietary fiber and added sugars; and their servings of vegetables and fruits. The physical activity report breaks down minutes of daily physical activity by intensity level, such as low, moderate or vigorous.
Education also is important when adopting healthier behaviors, Francis continued. During the past 10 years, many Live Healthy Iowa participants asked similar nutrition questions about how to make healthy food selections, where to find reliable information and how to prepare healthy meals. In response, Francis developed four online nutrition lessons.
Lesson 1 discusses four ways to plan healthy meals, and Lesson 2 explains body mass index, calorie basics and tracking. The third lesson discusses how to accurately read and interpret the information on the nutrition facts label, and the fourth lesson guides participants through the 10 red flags of junk science.
“Each lesson can be completed in about 10 minutes. Participants will receive links to the lessons through weekly emails, and the links also will be available on the Live Healthy Iowa website throughout the 10 week challenge,” Francis said. “We hope these new features will help Iowans adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors that will lead them toward improved health and wellbeing.”
For more information on nutrition and health or to receive a weekly e-mail from ISU Extension and Outreach including a food, recipe and activity of the week, visit www.extension.iastate.edu/healthnutrition.