'Healthy' cities in East Texas receive national recognition

By Donna McCollum - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - For Shirley Campbell one healthy move leads right into another one. After heart surgery she made several smart lifestyle changes.

"I quit smoking," said Campbell, while finishing up a session on a stationary bike. "I exercise. I eat different."

Lifestyle changes are helping Campbell. In a similar way, healthy lifestyle promotions are paying off for heart healthy cities. After its state recognition, Nacogdoches now has a national ACHIEVE (Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and Environmental Change) communities grant, totaling $75,000 over three years. Cities that achieve this kind of recognition must show that they are willing to do things to encourage an active lifestyle. Take for instance, the development of a city trail with a bench or water fountain. It can encourage people to come out and take a stroll. The smoking ordinance, healthy eating and disparities initiatives also made the grant selection possible.

The healthy best practices are setting examples for other cities.

"If we can do it on a regional basis, you have more impact than you do on the local basis and I think things do extend," said Kinnie Parker, program coordinator for Healthy Nacogdoches Coalition.

This year both Nacogdoches and Tyler received gold status as a Heart and Stroke Healthy City.

The change is so important to East Texas.

"When you look at how many people die of heart disease and stroke, we're higher than our state average and higher than the national average," shared Parker.

At one time only ten Texas cities qualified for heart healthy recognition. Now there are 43 and Shirley is living in one of them.

"I feel healthy," Campbell said.

According to the state health services, heart disease and stroke killed almost 50,000 Texans in 2005. Hospital costs to treat the diseases run as high as $10-billion.

For help on lifestyle changes go to http://www.texascvdcouncil.org