Active Living


In response to increasing rates of chronic disease and rising health care costs, legislation called for a creatin of plan to fund and implement comprehensive statewide health improvement. The plan, which was developed in consultation with State Community Health Services Advisory Committee and Minnesota Department of Health Executive Office, addresses risk factors for preventable illness and death in the U.S., including tobacco use, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition. The Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) intends to reduce the prevalence of obesity and tobacco use in Minnesota through policy systems and environmental changes.

The North Country Health Board is overseeing SHIP efforts for Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard and Lake of the Woods Counties. Per SHIP guidelines, interventions were selected in four settings:

  • Community
  • Worksites
  • Schools
  • Healthcare

The Headwaters Regional Develelopment Commission partnered with the North Country Health Board and the Community Leadership Team (CLT) to develop a plan and begin implementation on SHIP intervention #C-PA-C1: Implement policies and practices that create active communities by increasing opportunities for non-motorized transportation (walking and biking) and access to community recreation facilities.


The HRDC used the strategic planning model to complete a plan for active living in each of the four North Country Health Board Counties. The plan includes a strategic vision for active living, including specific objectives and strategies. It is also apparent that the goal of SHIP is to make significant progress on changing peoples’ behaviors in a relatively short amount of time. With that goal in mind, the approach will be to implement high priority strategies that have strong support from the CLT and the local leadership teams.


  • Implement policies and practices that create active communities by increasing opportunities for non-motorized transportation and access to community recreational activities.
  • Incorporate pedestrian and bicycle facilities into standard transportation improvement programs throughout the region.

Key Strategies

  • Partner on high priorities with a wide range of community organization to move active living forward.
  • Complete walk audits in population centers.
  • Create an “active living toolkit” to help integrate active living principles into the agenda of communities in the Headwaters Region.
  • Present the “active living toolkit” and seek resolutions of support from municipalities in the region.
  • Incorporate complete streets concepts into transportation improvement programs or road improvement plans.
  • Install signage that provides a safe, clear, and seamless trip to key destinations (for pedestrians and bicyclists).
  • Install bicycle racks at important destination (schools, businesses, parks, etc.).
  • Include sidewalks, bicycle lanes, wide shoulders, and/or separated bicycle trails in appropriate road reconstruction projects OR as standalone transportation projects.
    Develop pedestrian and bicycle route maps.
  • Paint, repaint, and sign marked cross walks – particularly along desirable pedestrian and bicycle routes.

Implementation Summary

The HRDC will provide the overall framework for implementation. A key component is to set up communities to incorporate pedestrian and bicycle facilities into transportation programming across the region. The Community Leadership Team and local leadership teams can also take piece of implementation. It will be important to work together to present the active living toolkit and seek resolutions of support from City Councils and County Boards. The individual communities may also take the lead on programs and promotions in their respective communities.

North Country Health Board’s Active Living Plan

North Country Health Board’s Active Living Plan Executive Summary