IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital

Foundation-supported Cardinal Zumba gets community moving


January 10, 2019

IU Health Ball Memorial has consistently identified obesity prevention as a priority community health need. Cardinal Zumba, a free community fitness and nutrition program, was launched with grant funding from the Ball Foundation, plus support from Ball State University, Purdue Extension of Delaware County, Harvest Christian Church and the Whitely Community Council. IU Health Ball’s Family Medicine Residency and Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program regularly provide student instructors and physician education to participants in the program.

Twice a week, about 50 people participate regularly in Cardinal Zumba, hosted in the Harvest Christian Church gymnasium. More than 300 people have participated in the workout, including those living in the immediate neighborhood and surrounding area. The program initially targeted residents in this area of Muncie due to the obesity-related health issues reported in this community, a historically diverse neighborhood of low-to-middle income families.

Zumba offers many positive health benefits. Sometimes physically intense, Zumba dance moves promote flexibility in a full-body workout designed for all ages and abilities. “Our workouts are a lot of fun,” said participant Glenda Reynolds. “Our instructor switches them up a lot, so they aren’t repetitive, and we’re always challenged. It’s a really worthwhile program.”

Ball State University (BSU) College of Health faculty and students manage the program and track outcomes. For nearly a year, Cardinal Zumba has showed positive returns. “We are still working to boost program participation, but our regulars are seeing positive changes in weight loss, blood pressure and body composition,” said Dr. Shannon Powers, program director for the BSU College of Health. “The incentives for regular attendance, for sharing their experiences on social media and for bringing along family or friends boosts exercise adherence. The more we keep people involved with the program during their daily lives, the more likely they will implement better nutritional and physical activity behaviors.”

BSU students also provide childcare and activities for participants’ children during class. Participants have access to group nutrition consultations and individual nutrition counseling sessions. BSU health sciences students provide free consultations and personalized recommendations based on participant family needs, food preferences and wellness abilities. Since January, group nutrition education is available once a month, with food samples and recipes available to participants following each regular Zumba class.

“I’ve learned how to eat healthier food and make better choices,” said Kathy Brown, a 69-year-old participant. “My doctors have been ecstatic over how much my blood sugar has improved.

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A chronic, life-threatening disease associated with excessive body fat and a BMI in adults that exceeds 30.