Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Campaign seeks to build support for, and action to make, Kentucky communities more walkable for better community health

Seventy Kentucky school districts, local governments, health departments, businesses and other organizations have joined the Step It Up, Kentucky! campaign to encourage walking and build the demand for walkable communities as a way to better health.

Public-health experts recommend 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week to improve health, which can easily be achieved by walking. People are more likely to make the decision to walk when they have places, programs and policies that provide opportunities and encouragement, says a news release from the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

“Getting people to move more starts with improving the places we live, learn, work and play,” Obesity Prevention Program Coordinator Elaine Russell said in the release. “Communities can be built for people to be active in their everyday life. By providing safe, attractive and convenient places to walk, anybody can incorporate exercise into their daily routine.”

Step It Up, Kentucky! represents the state's response to the U.S. surgeon general’s recent Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities, which calls on Americans to increase walking by designing communities that encourage physical activity in order to address rising rates of chronic disease.

From adding sidewalks to developing parks and recreation sites, there are a number of things communities can do to become more walkable. Winchester created a mile-long circular path in the middle of town simply by mowing a stretch of undeveloped land. Rockcastle County paved a one-mile path along a roadway in Mount Vernon, now used by walkers, runners and bikers. The path also served as the site for an eight-week walking challenge in the community. 

“Creating a culture that supports healthy lifestyles starts with building support at the local level,” said Dr. Connie White, acting commissioner of the state Department of Public Health. “All Kentuckians deserve safe, inviting places to be active.”

For more information on Step It Up!, visit the Partnership for a Fit Kentucky’s website:  For more about obesity prevention, increasing access to physical activity, or what other communities are doing to encourage wellness, visit the Partnership for a Fit Kentucky’s blog

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