Better health can begin at the end of your legs

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

To be honest, most of us haven’t been motivated to get outside in recent months.

Residents of “Nebraska’s Hot Spot” aren’t used to having winters as long and severe as this one seemed to be. Not that we should complain, considering the struggles residents of a large part of the state are having in recovering from the mid-March “bomb cyclone” that left many homeless and without income.

Perhaps some of the exercise we’re about to suggest could result from volunteering in those parts of the state — a worthwhile activity if one has the time and opportunity.

Along those lines, Gov. Pete Ricketts has declared a Statewide Day of Prayer by those affected by the flooding, and first lady Susanne Shore has urged Nebraskans to visit nebraskaimpact.com for volunteer opportunities.

Until those opportunities present themselves, however, we owe it to those we wish to help, and to ourselves, to be in the best physical condition possible.

Many belong to the YMCA or a health club, and many are involved in sporting activities, but most of us don’t even need to be that involved to take part in the most common and accessible form of exercise — walking.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of us get enough aerobic physical activity to improve our health, and six in 10 adults reported walking for at least 10 minutes in the previous week.

And more of us are doing it — adults who walk for transportation, fun or exercise like walking the dog went up 6 percent in five years, that’s 145 million of us.

It’s not just for fresh air and sunshine; physical activity like walking can help improve health even without weight loss. Those who are active live longer and have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers.

While the situation is improving, statistics show that more than half of us still don’t get the recommended amount of exercise — 21⁄2 hours or 150 minutes a week of aerobic physical activity, such as a fast-paced walk for no less than 10 minutes at a time.

McCook is blessed with some great walking trails, but we hope more can be added to promote a healthy lifestyle among our citizens.

At the same time, we as individuals can look for motivation to get outdoors and enjoy our late-arriving spring.

The Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department is again sponsoring its annual Walk to Health program, now through June 23, creating encouragement and friendly competition for individuals and teams of walkers.

Community Hospital is involved as well, awarding special recognition for people who achieve the Million Step Club.

Visit http://1.usa.gov/1MHacsI or http://www.swhealth.ne.gov/ to join and learn how to log your steps or synch your fitness tracker to do it automatically.

Find out more about the benefits of walking at the CDC website, http://bit.ly/2COEB72

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