Thursday, June 18, 2015

Health department urges Kentuckians to walk regularly; state ranks high in obesity, low in physical activity

With summer here, the state health department is urging Kentuckians to adopt a regular walking schedule to connect with friends and neighbors and improve health and fitness in a state that ranks high in obesity and low in physical activity.

“Summer is the perfect time to renew your commitment to get outdoors and take a walk,” Health Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield, said in a news release. “We all know walking is healthy, but it’s also fun, relaxing, and a great way to connect with others. You can invite a friend or loved one out for a nightly walk after dinner, take care of weekend errands on foot, or invite neighbors or co-workers to start a regular walking group. The more you walk, the more you’ll connect and be part of building a stronger, healthier community.”

In Kentucky, 31.3 percent of adults are obese. “Obesity is linked to multiple chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke – and is one of the major chronic conditions affecting the health of Kentuckians,” said Elaine Russell, the Department for Public Health's obesity-prevention coordinator. “Regular walking could greatly reduce our state’s obesity burden.”

Russell's program and the Partnership for a Fit Kentucky have created a guide for obesity prevention and health policy for Kentucky communities, at ). Kentucky is one of four states that will get technical assistance from America Walks to improve walkable community design, such as complete streets, lower traffic speeds, livable communities and economic benefits.

“We’re also working directly with communities and funding projects through a public health grant program to help cities and towns across Kentucky develop pedestrian plans,” Russell said. The department selected 11 communities for funding to start work on a pedestrian plan.

“We’re very excited about recent developments in obesity prevention and increasing physical activity in the commonwealth,” Russell said. “We hope everyone will not only become more physically active, but take some time to learn more about our vision and support our communities in their work to become more active, healthier places to live, work and play.”

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