Get moving America and be healthier
On Sept. 9, 2015, a new movement began. The surgeon general issued a call to action encouraging our nation to promote “walking and walkable communities.”
Various campaigns and community events have followed, including this month’s first annual National Walking Day last week. Millions of Americans have come together to gain awareness and to make commitments toward a healthier life and a healthier country.
In the words of Edward Smith-Stanley (1752-1834), English statesman and three time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, “those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness” … and its attendant financial burdens, we could add.
Our annual cost of cardiovascular diseases and stroke alone, including health care expenditures and loss of productivity, total more than $316 billion. Heart disease is our number one killer in the U.S. About 550,000 people have a first-time heart attack each year, about 200,000 have recurrent heart attacks, and about 795,000 people have a stroke, the number one preventable cause of disability (American Heart Association 2016 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update).
The research is clear on how to lessen this gigantic toll on life, money, and time. Committing to doing something moderately physically active such as walking 30 minutes a day five times a week (or in smaller blocks of time adding up to the same overall weekly total of 150 minutes) most certainly will provide enormous physical, mental, and financial benefits. These benefits include everything from preventing dementia, diabetes, and heart disease to managing arthritis, COPD, and depression. The hope is that city planners down to individual citizens will make a commitment to the simple notion of “walking and walkable communities” to lessen the burden of mental and physical healthcare for individuals and our nation.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be thought of as “exercise,” but more of living an active lifestyle. Can we find something we like to do that makes our body move and be active? For most people this will be walking because it can be done with friends, with the dog, indoors or in nature, and it can have added purpose by getting you to a destination or helping out a good cause if you are training for a 5K walk that supports something or someone. If you love doing something it won’t feel like “exercise”, it will feel more like fun and will make you happy. Those who find time for exercise will certainly have to find time for happiness so get moving! For more info see Every Body Walk on Facebook, everybodywalk.org and surgeongeneral.gov.
Debbie Coblentz is a registered dietitian living in Churchill County. Your comments in response to this article are welcome at email@example.com.