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Promoting Good Health Through Physical Activity in Rochester

By Milena Nunez Garcia, SNAP-Ed Educator

Good things are happening at the Oak Terrace Estates and Parkside mobile home communities in Rochester, MN.

Back in 2015, I started a community exercise program that brought together community leaders, as well as community agencies and businesses to offer residents the opportunity to be more physically active with others in their neighborhood. University of Minnesota Extension, Olmsted County Public Health Services (working through the Statewide Health Improvement Program), the RNeighbors Neighborhood Resource Center, and Riverstone Communities are some of the organizations that collaborated in this effort. We, the partners, included residents in the planning and implementation of this project. They assisted in the promotion and recruitment process, determined the class schedule, arranged child care, and kept the shared community room clean.

We started with one volunteer instructor who taught classes two times per week. As of June 2016, we have six volunteer instructors and one community leader who became a certified Zumba® instructor. These seven instructors rotate teaching different exercise routines four times per week.

At present, 12 to 18 participants attend each class, with a total of about 40 people on the full roster, not counting the children who occasionally participate. This compares with 25 to 30 people on the roster in 2015.

Participants pose after a class. Bottom right: SNAP-Ed Educator Milena Nunez Garcia
Besides increasing participation this year, we were able to acquire new exercise equipment thanks to two of our partner agencies. Our new equipment includes steps, exercise balls, mats, dumbbells, and yoga blocks.

As a result of the program, Oak Terrace and Parkside residents:
  • Have access to a healthy, social, and fun environment.
  • Interact more regularly with their neighbors.
  • Feel a sense of belonging and shared identity in their local area.
  • Strengthen relations and trust between the different cultures that comprise this community.
  • Contribute to a healthy and happier neighborhood for everyone.
  • Have increased self-esteem.
  • Face fewer barriers to exercise, such as transportation.
  • Enjoy exercise in the convenience of their neighborhood.
  • Reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes.
  • Have a safe and effectively designed workout that requires no prior exercise knowledge or experience.
  • Have access to a consistent exercise schedule.
We are thrilled with the success of this program!
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