Hearts n' Parks

Organization Sponsor: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute


Program Description

Hearts N' Parks is a national, community-based program supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). This innovative program aims to reduce the growing trend of obesity and the risk of coronary heart disease in the U.S. by encouraging Americans of all ages to aim for a healthy weight, follow a heart-healthy eating plan, and engage in regular physical activity. The American Dietetic Association is also working with Hearts N' Parks communities to provide expertise on heart-healthy nutrition. Phone: 301-592-8573 Fax: 301-592-8563 Email: [email protected] 

Strategies For Sustainability: 

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health, the Federal Government's primary agency for biomedical and behavioral research and a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NHLBI leads the national research program in diseases of the heart, blood vessels, lung, and blood; blood resources; and sleep disorders. The NHLBI also conducts educational activities for health professionals and the public in these and related areas, including overweight and obesity

Impact Of Program: 

The impact of Hearts N' Parks expanded significantly during 2003: the number of participants more than doubled (up from 1200 in 2002) as did the number of programs (142 programs in 2003, compared to 68 in 2002). In addition, Magnet Centers significantly increased participation by adolescents, adult males, and Hispanics -- groups that traditionally are less likely to participate in recreation programs.

Evaluation Tools: 

The performance report compares the scores of pre-test and post-test questionnaires completed by 2,800 participants from 48 Hearts N' Parks sites (Magnet Centers) across the country. For example, when asked whether they choose healthier foods over less healthy foods, children's scores improved 14 percent, and adolescents' scores increased by 15 percent. Furthermore, although all age groups reported increasing their physical activity levels, adults significantly improved by 15 percent; adults also reported reducing the number of hours in a week spent being sedentary, such as watching TV, by 2 to 4 hours.

Key Elements Towards Success: 

Because the activities are offered as part of local park and recreation programs such as summer day camps, after-school and senior programs, they are readily accessible to community members. NHLBI provides science-based educational materials about lifestyle choices that can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, such as developing healthier eating habits and participating in regular physical activity. For the second year, more than 50 Hearts N' Parks Magnet Centers in 11 states are part of the program.

Length and Stage of Project: 

Hearts N' Parks is a program of the NHLBI Obesity Education Initiative, established in 1991 to help reduce the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and physical inactivity in order to lower the risk, and overall morbidity and mortality from heart disease and other conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea.

Share Your Thoughts