We all know it’s important to be healthy—but it’s not our fault that broccoli doesn’t taste like french fries. Getting healthy is hard, but if you go about it as a group, people have support and motivation (or they’re shamed out of reaching for that second cupcake. Either way). So why not have some programs in your community to bolster your residents’ health and morale? Not only will these programs promote good health, but they’ll encourage socialization among residents, which, in turn, could lead to retention.
Here are some suggestions for some community health initiatives.
Have a community garden. If you have outdoor space or even roof access, set up a garden area for residents. Those who are interested can grow vegetables or herbs, and then residents could have access to the fruits of their labor. Whatever, I like puns; I’m not ashamed. You could also set up individual plots that residents could choose to sign up for. That way people will have their own area to look after.
Host a healthy cooking class. There’s an old joke that people in Manhattan use their ovens as storage space. (I didn’t say it was a funny joke.) And, despite what seems like 87 seasons of Top Chef, most of us don’t know how to cook anything more advanced than a grilled cheese (and I’m still kind of unsure what a geoduck is, or why I would ever want to eat one). So why not have a cooking class in that fancy kitchen in your amenity space, where the instructor shows residents how to cook a healthy meal, and then everyone gets to eat together after. It’s that whole “if you give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day, if you show him how to fish he’ll eat for life, if you teach him how to cook a fish and eat it together, at least he won’t be ordering Pad Thai that night” thing.
Start a running team. Running has many benefits, including a built-in excuse to buy a cute new pair of sneakers, the chance to finally yell “run, Forrest, run!” without being mocked for making a movie reference from 19 years ago, and an excuse to stuff yourself with pasta and breadsticks the night before in the name of carbo-loading (Oh, and I think there are also some health benefits). There are races that go on all the time across the country of varying distances, and you don’t have to be an Olympian to run them. Start a team at your community and sign up for a local race or run/walk (a 5k, which is 3.1 miles, would probably be the most accessible and least intimidating). You can all go for runs together during the weeks leading up to it. Plus a lot of races raise money for a charity, so you could all fundraise together.
Start a community “Biggest Loser” competition. Have interested residents weigh in and then set a period of time where they try to lose weight. You can have weigh ins periodically to keep people on track with their goals. The person who loses the most or reaches their weight-loss goal can win a prize. So, it’s motivation to diet and exercise, and a chance to show up that smug neighbor in 3B who is always talking about all the quinoa she eats. Everyone wins.
What are some other ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle in your community?
-Jessica Fiur, News Editor
Photo credit: Rihardzz