Planning Healthy Iowa Communities


Active Transportation

Active transportation is any self-propelled, human-powered mode of transportation, such as walking or bicycling. Physical inactivity is a major contributor to the steady rise in rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other chronic health conditions in the United States. Many Americans view walking and bicycling within their communities as unsafe due to heavy traffic and a scarcity of sidewalks, crosswalks, and bicycle facilities. Improving these elements could encourage active transportation such as children biking to school or employees walking to work. Safe and convenient opportunities for physically active travel also expand access to transportation networks for people without cars, while also spurring investment in infrastructure to increase the comfort of the on-road experience to improve the appeal of active modes to all people.

 - CDC Healthy Places

Biophilic Design

    Biophilic design is an innovative way to design the places we live, work, and learn to bring exposure to nature back into the human world in all settings. Despite the biological need of humans to intimately connect to nature, the man made environment has been designed to both degrade the environment and separate humans from nature. Through biophilic design, our cities and infrastructure may facilitate human connection to the natural world through the way hospitals are designed, cities are built, and how buildings are structured. Increased connection with the natural world improves the mental and physical health of those exposed, particularly among those in an inpatient setting and within the school system.

    Health Impact Assessments 

    Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a process that helps evaluate the potential health effects of a plan, project or policy before it is built or implemented. An HIA can provide recommendations to increase positive health outcomes and minimize adverse health outcomes. HIA brings potential public health impacts and considerations to the decision-making process for plans, projects, and policies that fall outside the traditional public health arenas, such as transportation and land use.


    Food Environment

    The food system consists of all stages, processes and activities from food production all the way to consumption, and eventually disposal of food products. While issues pertaining to community food systems have not always been seen as a matter for local government intervention, cities and towns are increasingly recognizing the far-reaching impacts and opportunities contained within these various stages. For example, community food systems directly connect to public health goals such as reducing hunger or obesity; the protection and conservation of natural resources including energy, water and soil; and supporting or facilitating local economic growth.

    National League of Cities

    Useful Data Sets 

    • Click here to access a compilation of data sets that will be useful for planning/public health collaborations.

    Iowa Plan4Health Demonstration Projects

    Plan4Health connected communities across the country, funding work at the intersection of planning and public health.  Anchored by American Planning Association (APA) Chapters and American Public Health Association (APHA) Affiliates, Plan4Health supports creative partnerships to build sustainable, cross-sector coalitions.   

    Through the Plan4Health grant from APA and APHA, the Planning Healthy Iowa Communities - Linn County Coalition sought to increase opportunities for physical activity and improve nutrition, especially among low-income Linn County residents as they implemented two pilot projects by April 2016.

    Click here to read the success story of this project.

    Iowa Public Health Association  - Uniting and strengthening the voice for public health in Iowa

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