Physical activity has significant rewards | Journal-news

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Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its data on levels of inactivity among Americans. According to the maps, 25% of Americans are not active enough to maintain their health. It looks pretty bad. But a look at the West Virginia numbers is even worse. More than 30% of Mountain State adults are listed as inactive, which means they recorded NO physical activity in a month-long period.

For the purposes of the report, the CDC talks about physical activity outside of work, such as running, walking for exercise, or even gardening. Other states listed as inactive like West Virginia were Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Puerto Rico Territory.

Yes, these are also poorer states and/or in Appalachia and the South. It’s a no-brainer to conclude that there are factors at work beyond mere laziness. But as communities, we need to do a better job of educating people of all ages about the need to stay physically active.

“Sufficient physical activity could prevent one in 10 premature deaths,” said Dr. Ruth Petersen, director of the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “Too many people are missing out on the health benefits of physical activity, such as improved sleep, reduced blood pressure and anxiety, reduced risk of heart disease, several cancers and dementia.”

While a particularly snowy and cold winter might not be the best time to think about it, we live in one of the best states in the country to get outside and exercise. It doesn’t have to be a sweaty, intense, hour-long workout at the gym (but if that’s what you’re into, go for it). Getting more active can be as simple as enjoying a walk on one of our many beautiful community trails for half an hour, a few days a week. It doesn’t have to cost anything or take up a lot of your hard-earned free time.

And you never know, you might find you like it. Surely your health will be better for it.

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