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Appalachian Partners with Be Active North Carolina to Increase Region’s Physical Activity

072805tumbleston.jpgBOONE – Appalachian State University and Be Active North Carolina have launched a partnership to help western North Carolinians become more active.

The initiative, called Be Active North Carolina-Appalachian Partnership, is being made possible through a five-year grant from Be Active North Carolina and its founding sponsor, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

The grant will include an assessment of needs and challenges that western North Carolina faces related to physical activity. It will provide resources for schools and after-school programs to implement a proven physical activity curriculum. The grant includes 150 Active Steps Youth Program kits, each of which includes electronic pedometers and lesson plans for school-based and after-school programs.

The partnership is also expected to result in additional collaboration with schools, childcare centers, worksites and other community agencies in western North Carolina in promoting physical activity. The exact nature of that collaboration will be determined by the study.

“Service to the region has always been a key part of Appalachian State University’s mission. Appalachian has been expanding its academic programs related to health care, and the new partnership with Be Active North Carolina fits well with the university’s role of serving the needs of the region’s citizens,” said Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock.

Be Active North Carolina, based in Chapel Hill, is the state’s leading nonprofit organization devoted to physical activity and wellness. The organization emphasizes the importance of physical activity while teaching fun, easy steps to healthier lifestyles.

Through the partnership with Appalachian, Be Active North Carolina will expand its successful programs already used in other parts of the state, such as Be Active KidsSM, Active Steps Youth Program and Active Steps@Work.

“During the first year, the focus of planning and programming will be in Watauga County, then ripple into other northwestern counties as the partnership grows,” said Shellie Pfohl, executive director of Be Active North Carolina.

Susan Tumbleston, a Boone resident, has been named the partnership’s program manager.

“The value of incorporating regular physical activity into your lifestyle cannot be overstated, for we know its positive effect on personal health, individual and corporate productivity, and efforts to reduce the overall costs of health care,” Tumbleston said.

“In North Carolina, we are seeing more disease and premature death as a result of physical inactivity, and our children are three times more likely to be obese than youth nationally. Our state ranks 38th among other states in the critical measure of physical activity, and our sedentary lifestyles cost billions of dollars in avoidable medical expenses, workers compensation claims and lost work days,” Tumbleston continued.

Bob Greczyn, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, said concerted efforts to promote physical activity and other positive lifestyle choices were key to the long-term health of western North Carolina and the state as a whole.

“We will solve the inactivity crisis in North Carolina only when we provide the leadership and vision for our people and programs that encourage and support physical activity,” he said. “This collaboration between Appalachian and Be Active North Carolina is exactly the kind of fresh approach we should be seeking.”

Pfohl said Tumbleston’s leadership will be a great asset to the partnership. Tumbleston is a registered nurse with 10 years of experience in quality initiatives, strategic planning and information management. She also has a master of business administration degree (MBA) from Appalachian.

“She brings the motivation and experience we need to make this partnership a success,” Pfohl said.

The partnership is housed in Appalachian’s Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science, facilitating the creation of new opportunities to collaborate with the university’s ongoing research and community fitness initiatives.

Appalachian’s Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science is internationally known for its teaching and research, including the effects of exercise and weight loss on the immune system and the health benefits of certain vitamins during and after exercise. In its community testing program, faculty and students assess cardiorespiratory fitness, resting metabolic rate, and body composition in Appalachian’s Human Performance Laboratory.


Picture Caption: Susan Tumbleston


Susan Tumbleston

(828) 262-7155

Linda Coutant

(828) 262-2342

For more information about the partnership organizations, visit their Web sites at:,,, and

North Carolina Health Statistics:

Only 38 percent of the state’s citizens meet minimum physical activity recommendations as stated by the Centers for Disease Control, while 23 percent consider themselves to be sedentary. [Source: North Carolina Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2003.]

Approximately 14 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds are overweight, and about 23 percent of 5- to 11-year-olds are overweight. [Source: North Carolina Nutrition and Physical Activity Surveillance System (NC-NPASS), 2004]

North Carolina’s children are 2-3 times more likely to be obese than youth nationally. [Source: Bradley, C., Harrell, J., McMurray, R., et al. (1992). Prevalence of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking among elementary school children in North Carolina. North Carolina Medical Journal, 58:362-7]

Young people exhibit risk factors for heart disease as early as third grade. [Source: Harell, J., McMurray, R., Bangdiwala, S., Frauman, A., & Ganksy, S. (1996). Effects of a school-based intervention to reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors in elementary-school children: the Cardiovascular Health in Children (CHIC) Study. Journal of Pediatrics. 128(6): 797-805.]

Many children have diets that are too high in fat, but low in fiber, fruits and vegetables. [Source: Children’s Diets in the Mid-1990’s: Dietary Intake and its Relationship with School Meal Participation (2001).]

81 percent of adults 65 years or older are at risk for health problems related to lack of exercise (regular and sustained physical activity). [Source: Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), Prevalence Data for North Carolina, 2000.]

American employees lost nearly 40 million work days due to conditions associated with obesity, a 50 percent increase since 1988. [Sources: Burton, W., Chen, C., Schultz, A., & Edington, D. (1998). The economic costs associated with body mass index in a workplace. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 40(9):786-792. AND Tucker, L. & Friedman, G. (1998). Obesity and absenteeism: an epidemiologic study of 10,825 employed adults. American Journal of Health Promotion. 12(3):202-207.]