March 30, 2023

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) – The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department is setting up a five year community health improvement initiative.

The health department’s Community Health Director Malcolm Lanham said the department is required to make a community health improvement plan every three to five years. This initiative is a response to that plan.

“There’s a lot of noise out there when it comes to health and wellness so we want to cut through the noise,” he said.

The health department’s community health initiative is all about empowering people by giving them access to education and resources like exercise clubs, according to Lanham.

“People want to make decisions for their health. They want to make the right decision for themselves but a lot of them don’t know what to ask, what to do, to live a healthy life,” he said.

Some locals don’t feel like they have access to a healthy lifestyle. That’s based on a community needs assessment, according to Lanham.

The initiative will put an emphasis on strengthening your immune system, metabolic syndrome, and mental health.

“We’re seeing increases in depression, anxiety, substance use issues.”

Lanham describes metabolic syndrome as a cluster of health issues. It involves obesity, hypertension, high triglycerides, diabetes, and low HDL cholesterol. If you have three of those five issues, you have metabolic syndrome

“Most of our population in our six counties fall into at least one of those categories,” he said.

These health challenges will be addressed by five points of focus – lifestyle, community, movement, sleep, and nutrition.

Those points of focus will be tackled through education and exercise clubs.

“We’re also going to be creating some resources for them for exercise standpoints. We’re going to have community exercise groups that we’re going to be hosting in various parks,” Lanham explained.

One of those clubs will be a rucking club. Rucking is walking with a weighted pack. Lanham explained that this type of exercise is less stressful on the body than running. The group already has a Facebook group titled ‘MOV Ruck Club.’

The health department will share education like daily workout ideas on their Facebook page. You can also join their Step up to a Healthy Life Facebook group.

Lanham said, “From a long term perspective, what I would like to see with this is for us to work this out to where substance use community can use this as a non-medication-assisted treatment.”

Lanham said the health department plans to start phase two of the initiative later down the road. This would include free personal coaches to help people manage a healthier lifestyle.

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